South Africa

I’m ready for unifying title – Tete

2017-04-30 06:02
CHAMP: Zolani Tete celebrates his victory over Victor Ruiz in the IBF bantam-weight championship fight. (Alex Livesey, Getty Images)

Johannesburg - Zolani “Last Born” Tete says he is capable of making history by unifying four world championship belts.

He has invited the champions of three sanctioning bodies – the World Boxing Council (WBC), World Boxing Association and International Boxing Federation (IBF) – to fight him for the unification of the bantamweight division.

The titleholders are Japan’s Shinsuke Yamanaka, Kazakhstan’s Zhanat Zhakiyanov and England’s Lee Haskins, respectively.

Interim belt

Tete’s bold bid comes on the back of his victory over Filipino Arthur Villanueva, which gave him the interim World Boxing Organisation (WBO) bantamweight crown.

Tete won the bout, which took place last Saturday at the UK’s Leicester Arena, by a unanimous points decision.

The WBO crown was declared vacant after its former holder, Filipino Marlon Tapales, was stripped off the title after he failed to make the weight limit.

Tete became an automatic holder by virtue of winning the interim belt.

The former IBF super flyweight king now says he is capable of making his mark by becoming South Africa’s first boxer to unify world championship belts.

“I believe I can make history by becoming the first South African to unify three titles. My British promoter, Frank Warren, has invited the other champions to step forward and fight me,” said Tete.

Last Born said he had set himself a time frame to become the undisputed king of the bantamweights by 2019.

“It is possible to do it because at 29 years old, I believe age is still on my side,” he said.

“I give myself at least two more years to win all the belts by the time I turn 32. I would like to retire at 34”.

He said it was possible to attain this goal as many titleholders had won multiple crowns when they were “over the age of 30”.

Country proud

Tete said he would marry his girlfriend Thulisa Potwana, who hails from Mdantsane in the Eastern Cape, on July 18 next year.

“This day will be special because it will fall on Mandela Day. What better way to celebrate it than by marrying the woman who has supported my boxing career for so long? I think it’s wise for me to ask her for her hand in marriage.

“Hopefully, this will come when I have won one of the big belts,” said Last Born.

He hopes to slug it out for the WBC belt first. “Yamanaka has defended his crown 12 times since winning it in 2011. It will be nice for me to start the process of title unification by fighting him.”

Mlandeli Tengimfene, Tete’s trainer, said his charge would make the country proud by fighting for four championship belts.

“It will be history for him to fight all these champs. We would like to see all these guys step up to Last Born’s challenge. He is ready to prove who is the best in the division in the world,” said Tengimfene.

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