Zolani Tete in action. Photo: Action Images / Craig Brough

JOHANNESBURG - WBO bantamweight world champion, Zolani “Last Born” Tete will be in a generous mood in his title defence against Siboniso “Tiger” Gonya on Saturday next week in Ireland, despite making history for the wrong reasons.

This will be the first time that two South Africans fight for a world title outside the country. But that hasn’t dampened his spirits. 

The 29-year-old southpaw from Mdantsane looked calm, fast and in good shape in his training session at Urban Warrior Boxing Gym in Sandton on Tuesday.

“When I came back home after the fight (in April) as the world champion, I wanted to make my first defence in South Africa,” Tete said.

“It has always been my wish ... This is the second time that this isn’t happening. My first world title defence, I made it in England, and once again I am going to do so in that part of the world, which doesn’t sit well with me.”

Tete - a KO specialist with 20 of his 25 wins decided that way - should comfortably defend his belt against the 25-year-old from Mtubatuba in KwaZulu-Natal.

“I don’t think that he is ready for me,” Tete said. “Because he is South African, I will give him four rounds (before knocking him out). And I am being generous.”

Tete’s exploits in the ring have seen him make the shortlist for the SA Sports Star of the Year award.

He will compete with Olympians Luvo Manyonga, Wayde van Niekerk and Caster Semenya, along with Mamelodi Sundowns’ ace Percy Tau for the award on Sunday at Emperors’ Palace.

“It’s an achievement for myself, my camp and for boxing as well,” Tete said.

“This is the first time a boxer has been nominated for this award. I believe that boxing is there. We just need the coverage. There are a lot of good fighters out there, fighters who are smarter than me but don’t get good coverage.”

Despite being disappointed at defending his title in a foreign country, Tete is looking at what could be a blessing in disguise - an opportunity to convince Irish boxer Ryan Burnett to face him into unifying their belts. 

Tete, who enjoys bipartisan support in the UK, has promised to put on a show against Gonya to convince IBF and WBA champion Burnett.


The Star

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