A fight involving Mdantsane hero Zolani Tete, which was planned to be held in East London until the provincial government refused to fund it will now take place in Belfast, Northen Ireland on November 18.
Tete applied for funding to the department of sport, recreation, arts and culture through his Last Born Promotions to fight Siboniso Gonya of KwaZulu-Natal in East London.
The fight would have been a perfect homecoming for Tete after winning the WBO world bantamweight title in England in April.
However his application was turned down robbing his supporters an opportunity of watching their own son defending his major world title.
Tete is fighting under English promoter Frank Warren but he was given a permission by Warren to fight at home.
With Tete unable to raise funds for the fight, Warren will now organise it in Belfast.
Tete and his manager Mla Tengimfene leave for Belfast today for an official announcement tomorrow.
Tengimfene declined to confirm the fight before tomorrow’s press conference.
“All will be revealed in a press conference scheduled to be held at Clayton Hotel in Belfast,” he said.
However Warren is understood to have already contacted Gonya’s management about the fight.
Gonya’s promoter Thulani Magudulela confirmed that Warren called him to offer him the fight.
“We are excited to finally get this opportunity to challenge Tete although it is a bit bizarre that two South African boxers should fight in Belfast,” he said.
Magudulela criticised the KZN and Eastern Cape government for failing to support a fight of such magnitude.
“Imagine what this fight would have done for tourism in the two provinces,” he said.
“It would have been like Las Vegas right in our doorsteps. The lack of support just shows how our leaders care less about the sport of boxing.”
Indeed the fight would have drawn a full house in East London where Tete commands a big following.
Tengimfene is still bitter that the provincial government refused to fund the fight.
“I hope no one will accuse us of not wanting to fight at home now,” he said.
“We did all we could to make the fight happen in front of our supporters but we did not get any support.”
Gonya is rated third for Tete’s title with which he won after beating Filipino Arthur Villanueva in fight initially planned as an eliminator before being upgraded to an interim title clash.
When then champion Marlon Tapales was stripped of the WBO belt after failing to make the weight for his title defence against Japanese Shohei Omori, Tete was upgraded to full champion.
He wanted to make the first defence of his new title in front of his supporters but could not get the funding.
Gonya is a bit of close book to Tete even though he is based just a few kilometres away.
He holds the WBO regional title but his ascent to the top three position in the ratings is a bit generous for him.
Tete remains the only boxer in the country to be recognised as a true world champion due to the credibility of his WBO crown.
The 29-year-old has lost three times-two of which were disputed decisions in 28 bouts scoring 20 knockouts while Gonya has a single loss he suffered against Duncan Village boxer Thabo Sishwane in 12 bouts.