Zolani not taking Gonya for granted

Siboniso Gonya may represent the easiest of his 28 opponents, but Zolani Tete is training like he is preparing to face Hercules.

SEEING RED: Zolani Tete tries to land a left to Arthur Villanueva’s head in a final eliminator for the WBO world bantamweight championship in Leicester, England, in April. Zolani is preparing now to take on Siboniso Gonya in Belfast, Northern Ireland on November 18 Picture: GETTY IMAGES

Tete will make the maiden defence of his WBO world bantamweight crown against the KwaZulu-Natal-based challenger at the SSE Arena in Belfast, Northern Ireland on November 18.

The fight was originally planned to be held in East London last month, but that fell through.

Now it will be the first time two SA boxers contest for a major world title in a foreign country in what has become an indictment for local boxing.

While Gonya is a voluntary defence for Tete and does not carry much of a boxing clout even at home, the Mdantsane boxer is not overlooking him.

He has since gone to camp in Johannesburg to maximise his preparations, despite facing a boxer who once got stopped by Duncan Village spoiler Thabo Sishwane in his odd loss in 12 bouts.

Gonya holds the WBO intercontinental crown, which has helped him to vault into the third spot for Tete’s title.

However, he remains an enigma at home, with nothing known about his world-class credentials, while Tete is renowned worldwide for his boxing prowess.

But Tete’s manager, Mla Tengimfene, says Gonya was not being taken lightly.

“We are preparing like we will be fighting the best boxer in the world,” he said.

Tete is now working with Mhikiza Myekeni and Phumzile Matyhila after the exit of chief trainer Loyiso Mtya from the camp.

“They are pushing him hard, but you know Zolani does not need to be pushed, because training is in his blood.”

To make the camp even more family friendly, Zolani’s brother, Makazole, is part of the camp after he returned to All Winners Boxing Club, where his sibling is affiliated.

Tengimfene said Tete is looking to put on his best performance to facilitate negotiations to engage in bigger fights.

The card is billed as the homecoming of Irish star Carl Frampton, who will headline against Mexican Horacio Garcia.

The card, promoted by Tete’s English promoter Frank Warren will also see Filipino Jerwin Ancajas defending the IBF junior-bantamweight title – which formerly belonged to Tete – against another Irish star, Jamie Conlan.

“It is the big card and we know Frampton is a big star in Belfast, so it is important that we impress there,” said Tengimfene.

Tete was looking to unify with WBC champion Luis Nery of Mexico, but the 22-year-old slugger failed a dope test before dethroning Japanese Shensuke Yamanaka, rendering the outcome questionable.

The WBC is yet to take a decision on the matter, with insiders already predicting for the stripping of Nery and installation of Yamanaka as a champion.

Tete has voiced willingness to travel to Japan to unify with Yamanaka if he gets reinstated.