WBO world bantamweight champion Zolani Tete. Photo: Images / Andrew Couldridge

JOHANNESBURG - Not even Mike Tyson in his prime could boast of such a feat - the quickest knockout in world championship boxing history.

Zolani “Last Born” Tete now holds that honour following his 11 seconds demolition of compatriot Siboniso Gonya in Belfast on Saturday night to retain his WBO Bantamweight crown.

Before Saturday, the previous record stood at 17 seconds from back in 1994 when Puerto Rico’s Daniel Jiminez sent Australia’s Harald Geirer into slumberland during their WBO junior featherweight title bout.

Forbes Online Magazine is already calling it a contender for knockout of the year. And rightly so!

For which boxer, especially in the lower weight divisions, have you ever seen render his opponent unconscious with the first punch of a fight like Tete did on Saturday night?

It was sheer power, the right hook landing bang on the button just under Gonya’s chin. The referee did not even have to reach the full count as he realised how out cold the challenger was and waved the fight over.

Yet for all his power; for all his talent; for all his status in the world fistic game - Tete remains a struggling boxer while many of lesser class and quality enjoy the benefits of sponsorships.

Such is the plight of the boxer who has been the country’s only credible world champion for the last two years; a man feared by so many other boxers the world over and the best-rated South African boxer in all other top sanctioning bodies.

The commentators in Belfast Saturday rightly used a few superlatives to describe him: “He’s one of the outstanding fighters in the world; an avoided boxer mainly because of his skills; a skilful southpaw who is very hard to look good against; he has decent power,” the commentators said.

Even with all his achievements, 21 knockouts from 26 wins, will you see corporate South Africa rushing to back the Mdantsane boxer like they did when Wayde van Niekerk obliterated Michael Johnson’s 400m record? Not a chance.

Damn, they all looked past Caster Semenya’s achievements with none of them running to associate themselves with her.

Yet many a rugby players - some of the pretty obscure - drive around in sponsored cars while big name stars of the so-called black sports in this country get no such backing.

Even in boxing, there are boxers of lesser standing than Tete who have the backing of big corporate, mainly because of the colour of their skin.

This in a country where the word transformation is thrown about willy-nilly while the reality is that we are merely paying lip service to it.

Following his victory at the weekend, Tete has moved closer to a unification bout with dual world bantamweight champion Ryan Burnett, who holds both the WBA and IBF titles.

Surely such a talented boxer with so much potential to put the country on the world boxing map should be given as much help as possible.

Come on corporate South Africa, bet on the winning horse that is Zolani “Last Born” Tete!

If only to encourage the many youngsters who see Tete as a role model that they can make a good living out of the sport.

In any case, with his fighting prowess, you’ll get bang for the little buck you will be investing in him.

He is a world champion, world record holder for Pete’s sakes!

The Star

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