WBO bantamweight boxing champion Zolani “Last Born” Tete is well aware that he will have to be on top of his game when he faces vastly experienced former world champion Omar Andres Narvaez at the SSE Arena in Belfast‚ Northern Ireland‚ on Saturday.
But the explosive knockout artist from Mdantsane said he cannot afford to falter against Narvaez as a defeat would have severe consequences on his future.
Tete went to the late Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s home in Soweto to pay his respects on Friday and then boarded a flight to Northern Ireland afterwards.
Tete‚ members of his camp, trainers Loyiso Mtya‚ Zolile Tete and Phumzile Mathyila‚ his manager Mlandeli Tengimfene and many other boxers‚ including BSA chairman Peter Ngatane‚ CEO Tsholofelo Lejaka‚ CFO Thabang Moses and Gauteng provincial manager Archie Nyingwa laid wreaths.
“This is a spiritual upliftment for going to the home of such an icon before I fly out to represent my country in Northern Ireland‚” said Tete.
“I am here to draw strength and borrow the courage from Mama.”
Tete said he cannot afford to lose the fight as he has numerous plans in the pipeline that would be unravelled by a defeat to Narvaez.
“The guy [Narvaez] has so much experience‚ and that I cannot take away from him‚” he said.
“But there is just so much in the pipeline for me after this fight.
“That is why I just cannot allow him to be a stumbling block.”
Tete returns to the venue where he rewrote the history books in the defence of his title on November 18 when he knocked out countryman Siboniso Gonya in 11 seconds.
It was the quickest knockout in a world championship defence.
Tete broke the record of WBO junior featherweight champion Daniel Jimenez who knocked out Harald Geier in 17 seconds in 1994.
The South African will be bidding for the second defence of his belt against the 42-year-old Argentinian who boasts 25 knockouts in 48 wins against two defeats and two draws.
Tete’s win for the WBO title last year April saw him become the only South African boxer to hold such a credible world title.
The WBO is one of the four most respected sanctioning bodies.
It had been over a decade since a South African produced a WBO champion when Corrie “The Sniper” Sanders dethroned heavyweight champion Wladimir “Dr Steelhammer” Klitschko in Germany in 2003.
Many South African boxers have been constantly winning IBO and WBF titles which do not rank alongside the top four.
In his parting shot before jetting off to Belfast, Tete said: “I have been told to make sure that I win against Narvaez and there are much bigger opportunities that will be coming my way.”
Lejaka said: “We are confident of victory in Belfast. We understand it to be a bigger step towards his bigger mission to unify his belts.”