The long wait for Zolani “Last Born” Tete to fight for the world bantamweight boxing title could soon be over.
The boxer’s British promoter, Frank Warren of Queensberry Promotions, plans to push the World Boxing Organisation (WBO) – at its convention in Puerto Rico on October 17 – to allow Tete to be made a mandatory challenger for Filipino Marlon Tapales’ WBO title.
This means Tete will be the number one contender for Tapales’ crown.
The 28-year-old East London-based Tete and his camp have been fuming for some time, claiming the boxer has been made to compete for “insignificant” international bouts for too long, instead of getting a go at the world crown.
The former International Boxing Federation (IBF) bantamweight titlist gave up his IBF super flyweight title in 2015 – claiming he wouldn’t defend his crown for a “paltry” R70 000.
He currently holds the IBF international diadem, which he won in March and defended in June. Before then, he was the WBO Africa super flyweight titlist.
Queensberry spokesperson Andy Ayling told City Press from Hertfordshire in England this week that Warren would convince the WBO to make Tete the mandatory challenger for Tapales’ crown.
“Zolani is currently ranked number three by the WBO, but the champion Tapales does not want to fight him in a voluntary defence,” said Ayling.
“So it is our intention to push the WBO at their convention for Zolani to be the number one contender, so that he can challenge the champion.”
Ayling said they were doing everything possible for the match-up to happen before the end of the year.
He said they were also toying with the idea of Last Born challenging Cuban Guillermo Rigondeaux for the World Boxing Association super bantamweight title.
But Tete is not keen on the bout for now, and has claimed the division is too big for him. He fights at 53.52kg, while Rigondeaux’s official weight limit is 55.34kg – a difference of 1.82kg.
“We’ve spoken to Rigo’s camp with a view to a future fight between the two in the UK. We believe this could be a great match-up, but Zolani needs to grow into the super bantamweight division,” Ayling stressed.
Ayling dismissed the idea that they were trying to bypass Tete for the WBO title in favour of Englishman Paul Butler – the man Tete defeated for the IBF diadem in February last year.
Butler is also under Queensberry Promotions.
Tete says all he wants now is to get into the ring with Tapales and to fight it out for the championship belt.
“I’m sick and tired of fighting for insignificant international titles. I’ve been an international champion for almost a year and I’m now at a stage where I should be going for a proper world shot. I want Tapales high and low.”
The Rigondeaux match-up, he said, should happen next year.
“His weight is heavier than mine. That fight should happen next year, as I will have to put on extra weight before I can fight the Cuban.”
Last Born’s manager Mlandeli Tengimfene said it would be ideal for his charge to fight Tapales. He said all the global title-holders were scared of getting into the ring with Last Born.
“And Tapales will definitely lose his crown to my man,” he said with confidence.
Should Tete challenge Tapales or Rigondeaux?
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