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Tete camp blasts ‘lies’ in bout row

The row over the inexplicable withdrawal of WBA interim bantamweight champion Zhanat Zhakiyanov from his title defence against Mdantsane’s Zolani Tete went up a notch this week after the Kazakhstani boxer denied ever being approached for the fight.

Tete and Zhakiyanov were scheduled to face-off at Echo Arena in Liverpool, UK on June 4.

But Zhakiyanov reportedly withdrew from the fight leaving Tete’s camp livid as the southpaw will now have to take on a low-key opponent with no world title at stake.

Tete’s manager Mla Tengimfene said last week that he was disappointed with Zhakiyanov’s withdrawal, adding that Tete will now defend his IBF international bantamweight crown against an opponent yet to be announced.

However, Zhakiyanov’s manager Philippe Fondu released a strong- worded statement in one of the top US website where he denied that the fight was ever going to take place.

The relationship between the Tete camp and Fondu is not so rosy emanating from the Mdantsane boxer’s purse of his IBF world junior-bantamweight title defence against Paul Butler in Liverpool last year.

This when Fondu allegedly masqueraded as Tete’s manager in negotiations for the fight and subsequently deducted a percentage from the boxer’s purse without Tete or Tengimfene’s knowledge.

In the statement Fondu, who visited East London last year as the guest of Sijuta Promotions tournament, lashed out at Tengimfene accusing him of trying to market his boxer at the expense of Zhakiyanov.

“I want to state categorically that Zhakiyanov was never made a concrete offer to fight Zolani Tete,” he wrote.

“I plead with his manager Mla Tengimfene to stop feeding the media about unfounded stories involving our boxer. But let’s be honest here. Zhanat Zhakiyanov is the reigning interim WBA bantamweight champion and Tete is actually boxing for other world organisations . Furthermore, Tete is rated #9 in the WBA junior-bantamweight division. Such a contest could obviously not even be considered, as a WBA interim bantamweight champion can only defend his title against a WBA top-15 rated boxer in the bantamweight division.”

But Fondu’s argument about Tete fighting in the junior-bantamweight division and therefore could not be eligible to fight Zhakiyanov is hollow as the Mdantsane boxer is now campaigning in the bantamweight where he won the IBF International crown with a seven rounds stoppage of Mexican Jose Santos Gonzalez in Liverpool this past March.

Even if Tete had not yet fought in the bantamweight he would still be eligible to challenge for the WBA interim bantamweight crown as boxers often jump divisions to pursue big fights.

This past weekend Amir Khan jumped two divisions to challenge Saul “Canelo” Alzarez for the WBC middleweight title.

Tengimfene insisted that Zhakiyanov was offered the fight by Tete’s English promoter Frank Warren.

“Frank contacted me to ask if we were willing to fight Zhakiyanov and we agreed, so it is a lie that he was never approached,” a livid Tengimfene said.

“He must just come out and tell the truth about why he backed down from the fight.”

Regarding Fondu’s claims that Tete is seeking publicity at the expense of Zhakiyanov, Tengimfene said his charge was more popular in England than the Kazakhstani.

“Zolani’s popularity England is unparalleled, so how would he seek publicity from a boxer who is not even known there?”

Zhakiyanov is promoted by former English boxing hero-turned promoter Ricky Hatton.

However, the Kazakhstani last fought in Monte Carlo, France in a tournament organised by South African promoter Rodney Berman last November.

There were reports that Zhakiyanov had pulled out of the fight because of weight issues.

But Fondu shot down such reports arguing that his charge was still able to make the bantamweight division.

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