Yet another fight for Zolani Tete and again another setback.
Like what has now characterised his big fights, Tete’s house in Mdantsane was broken into while he was in camp in Johannesburg preparing for his WBO world bantamweight title defence against Siboniso Gonya of KwaZulu-Natal.
The fight will take place in Belfast, Northern Ireland, next weekend and Tete is not prepared to let the burglary setback distract him.
Having wrapped up preparations in Johannesburg before jetting off tomorrow evening, Tete took time off to speak about the fight.
BOXING MECCA: I told you to leave the house keys to me so that I could go and feed the chickens.
ZOLANI TETE: (Laughing) Eish, I recall you saying that indeed. Thinking about it I hope you are not behind this break-in… perhaps you wanted to get even with me for not leaving my house keys to you.
BM: (Laughing) There are many ways I can use to get even but not like this. On a serious note, I am sorry to hear what these thugs did to you. How did you take this bad news?
ZT: Thanks, my bra. You know it has become characteristic for me to suffer some sort of a setback every time I am about to go to a fight. This dates back to Sanchez (Juan Carlos) when we were hijacked in Mexico before the fight.
Then it was Teiru Kinoshita when my mother’s leg was amputated and then the serious hand injury I suffered before fighting Paul Butler.
And before my last bout against Villanueva (Arthur) my mother was seriously ill much that my father had to remain behind and be with her. So right now these setbacks do not affect me anymore, instead they make me strong as I am right now.
BM: I think you have left out setbacks such as the minor stroke you suffered, the swelling of your genitals before your fight against Unathi Gqokoma that forced it to be postponed…
ZT: Some have proven to be blessing in disguise such as the one I suffered before the Gqokoma fight. Remember I ended up withdrawing from the fight when I got an opportunity to fight Sanchez for the world title eliminator.
BM: But this setback must be lighting a fire under your belly, isn’t it?
ZT: Like I said, I use them to motivate me and yes it has lit up a fire under my belly.
BM: Explain it more.
ZT: Right now I want to crush Gonya to pieces. I know he has nothing to do with this setback but I am sorry to take it out on him. There is no way that Gonya is going the distance with me in this fight.
BM: I have never heard “Last Born” talk like this before a fight. You must really be fired up.
ZT: I need to make a big statement in this fight and unfortunately the victim will be umfowethu (my brother) Gonya.
BM: How do you see Gonya as a boxer?
ZT: To be honest with you, we are not on the same level. I am way smarter than him and that is not to talk him down. This is why I cannot afford to let him finish the fight with me.
BM: Tell us about the fight strategy.
ZT: We are taking the fight to him from the first bell. If Gonya imagines I will be my old cautious self he has another surprise coming. I am going in there to take him out. By round two or three the fight will be taking a clear direction.
BM: How has the camp been like without bra Loys?
ZT: The camp has been good because Showtime (Mhikiza Myekeni) and Kid (Phumzile Matyhila) have worked under bra Loys before so they are not new in this setup. Yes Bra Loys experience was missing but overall things were ok.
BM: Tell me Zolani, being such an experienced boxer yourself and now being trained by relative young trainers, do you not sometimes correct them during a training session?
ZT: In camp we work together and if one of us has a suggestion we welcome it. This is family and we have one goal.
BM: You have been nominated for the Sports Star of the year award. How does that make you feel?
ZT: Like I pointed out earlier on that some of these setbacks are in fact a blessing in disguise here I am being nominated for this award. I could not have wished for a better motivation going into this fight. If I am not mistaken I am the first boxer to receive this honour and to me this is important for boxing as a whole. It is a shot in the arm for boxing in general and hopefully it will lead to more bigger things such as bringing the corporate world to invest in this sport. So I am at a loss for words here.
BM: There has been plenty of activity in the bantamweight division with two of the four major world titles being unified by Ryan Burnett who I am sure will be present at your fight being Irish.
ZT: I hope he will be there because he used the same SSE Arena to unify the IBF and WBA titles.
BM: Also there is WBC champion Luis Nery who was fighting last weekend against your old foe Villanueva.
ZT: I think he is trying to send out a message by fighting Villanueva.
We are pursuing a unification with him and now he is fighting an opponent I fought before. All I can say is that I am glad he won.
BM: But he knocked out Villanueva when you could only beat him on points.
ZT: Yes he did but also Villanueva felled him when he could not touch me for the whole fight so that should be telling as well. If Nery feels he is better than me because he knocked out Villanueva when I could only beat him on points it is all well and good for me. Let him come and prove it.
BM: Are you going to call out Burnett after your fight with Gonya if you spot him among the crowd?
ZT: I do not know. It has never been my style to publicly call out other boxers but who knows how I will be feeling after the fight.
BM: Good luck, NoMzet.
ZT: Thanks my bra and thanks to all my supporters. I want to assure them that the title is going nowhere so they must relax.