Johannesburg - Zolani “Last Born” Tete believes his newfound fame of recording the quickest knockout win in world championship history has put him in a class of his own.
He is basking in the glory of being the fastest puncher and is determined to preserve his new status.
Tete took just 11 seconds into the first round to floor countryman Siboniso Gonya with his first punch to retain his World Boxing Organisation (WBO) bantamweight crown at SSE Arena in Belfast, Northern Ireland, last Saturday.
In doing so, the Eastern Cape idol eclipsed the feat accomplished by Daniel Jiménez of Puerto Rico, who stopped Austrian Harald Geier in 17 seconds in their WBO super bantamweight title contest in 1994.
Last Born’s bout was the shortest world title match-up in history so far. He leads a distinguished class of fighters with remarkable knockout finishes in big contests.
They are Samoan David Tua and Americans Gerald McClellan and Mike Tyson. The trio gained fame for finishing some of their bouts with quick knockout wins in fewer than two rounds.
But Tete’s devastating right hook that knocked out Gonya – in front of a foreign crowd – was just a cut above the rest.
He was in great shape after training hard for the bout at a secret training camp in Sandhurst, an affluent northern suburb of Johannesburg, ahead of the crucial title defence.
The fight was staged outside South Africa by British promoter Frank Warren because no funds were available for it to take place in Mzansi.
Tete feels extremely proud to have his name inscribed in the history books.
“Scoring the fastest knockout in a world title contest is something I will cherish for the rest of my life,” said Tete.
“I had planned to win by a fourth-round knockout, but an opportunity presented itself in the opening seconds when Gonya exposed himself to a killer punch.
“My vicious right hook to the jaw sent him crashing to the canvas and he was revived by ringside doctors".
The 29-year-old southpaw feels “a little disturbed” by embarrassing his compatriot away from home, but says that is the nature of boxing.
“I spoke to him after the fight and again while we were on the plane on our way back home. He took his defeat well".
Tete’s next fight will be a mandatory title defence against Omar Narváez from Argentina. The fight will be staged in the UK in February.
“Negotiations are ongoing between our British promoter Frank Warren and the camp of Narváez to stage the fight in London,” said Tete’s manager Mlandeli Tengimfene.
He said the contest would go to the purse bids if no agreement was reached between the negotiating parties.
Gonya said he felt bad about being knocked out so quickly on foreign soil by his countryman.
“It’s not nice to be dropped without having thrown a single punch. Everything was fine for me when I got into the ring. I don’t know what happened. I got up from the canvas after doctors attended to me after that knockout,” said Gonya.
The 29-year-old pugilist, who is also a southpaw, said he had trained hard for the bout.
“I did everything at training for the six days that I spent in Belfast before the fight. There are no hard feelings as I lost to a better opponent.
“I didn’t see that knockout punch coming. It was really not my night, but I will bounce back one of these days".
Gonya holds the WBO intercontinental and World Boxing Association Pan-African belts.
“I hope to defend my crowns soon and thereafter consider a rematch against Tete if he is willing to do so,” he said.