Johannesburg - Former International Boxing Federation (IBF) bantamweight champion Zolani “Last Born” Tete has vowed to leave nothing to chance following the announcement of an elimination fight that could put him on the brink of a world-title challenge.
The 28-year-old southpaw from Mdantsane in the Eastern Cape will go up against Filipino Arthur Villanueva, most likely in the UK, next month.
A win will enable Tete to challenge for the World Boxing Organisation (WBO) bantamweight world title, held by Villanueva’s countryman Marlon Tapales.
The news came after the WBO convention in Puerto Rico recently when his British promoter, Frank Warren of Queensberry Promotions, pushed the organisation to allow Tete to be made a mandatory challenger.
Tete, who left East London for Gauteng to prepare for the fight, said elimination and title fights were equally important.
“This contest is very important to me. I take it as seriously as a title fight because it is a ticket to challenge the WBO champion,” he said.
“I have started my preparations, and so far so good. With this opportunity, I’m getting closer to my dream to become a multiple world champion.
“When I started my boxing career, I told myself I wanted to become a world champion in different world bodies. I’m one step closer to that dream as I have already bagged the IBF.”
The two adversaries are both highly rated. Tete held the African version of the WBO crown. Villanueva is a WBO Asia Pacific title holder.
Villanueva tops the WBO ranking with an impressive record of 30 wins and a single loss, while the South African occupies the third spot and has three defeats in 27 outings.
Although the talented former IBF bantamweight title-holder anticipates a win, he is aware it will not be easy.
“Going into this contest, I know nothing is going to be easy. All the opponents in the top-five bracket are tough ones, so I’m ready for a real battle,” Tete said.