Tete at ease with new handlers

HARD AT WORK: IBF champion Zolani Tete prepares for his WBO bantamweight title defence against Siboniso GonyaPicture: VELI NHLAPO
HARD AT WORK: IBF champion Zolani Tete prepares for his WBO bantamweight title defence against Siboniso GonyaPicture: VELI NHLAPO
Zolani Tete is not bothered by the new corner for his upcoming maiden WBO bantamweight title clash arguing that the current trainers handling him were serving as assistants when chief trainer Loyiso Mtya was calling the shots.

The 29-year-old Mdantsane southpaw is deep in camp preparing for the first defence against compatriot Siboniso Gonya on November 18.

Owing to a big fallout between the boxer’s manager Mla Tengimfene and Mtya having led to the latter to be shown the door, assistant trainer Phumzile Matyhila and Mhikiza Myekeni are now calling the shots.

While Tete (25-3, 20 KOs) and Gonya (11-1, 5 KOs) hail from neighbouring Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal provinces with the trip between the two provinces being able to be taken by road, they will have to travel thousands of kilometres for the their fight with SSE Arena in Belfast, Northern Ireland playing as host.

It will be the first time ever two SA boxers contest for a major world title in a foreign country.

This came as result of the governments from both provinces inability to come up with funds to make it possible for the fight to be held at home.

Tete is also smarting from the cutting off ties with Mtya with whom has been in his last five fights.

The pair was together when Tete won the WBO crown with a decision victory over Filipino Arthur Villanueva in Leicester this past April.

Initially organised as title eliminator, the fight was upgraded to an interim championship when then champion Marlon Tapales failed to make weight for his voluntary title defence against Japanese Shohei Omori a few hours later.

With the title at stake only for Omori, Tapales knocked out the Japanese to hand it over to Tete on a silver platter.

Now Tete bids for the first defence when the spotlight is also on the small divisions such as the bantamweight and junior bantamweight divisions.

Just last month the junior bantamweight where Tete once ruled as an IBF king before abdicating to move up to the heavier weight class, showcased the talents of WBC champion Srisaket Sor Runvisai in a rematch with the man he dethroned Roman Gonzalez while Japanese boxing phenomenon Naoya Inoue also made his US debut. There was also a clash between Mexicans Juan Francisco Estrada battling Carlos Cuadras for the rights to stake a claim on the Thai monster.

The spotlight has now shifted to the bantamweight which last weekend played to the IBF and WBA unification clash between Zhanat Zhakiyanov and Ryan Burnett at the same battleground of Tete-Gonya clash.

Burnet added the WBA crown to his IBF title making himself a tantalising target for Tete.

“I was following the fight between Zhakiyanov and Burnett closely,” Tete admitted while in camp.

“I am hoping to get Burnett who I called out immediately after he beat Haskins but opted for the easy route.”

For now Tete is setting his eyes on suspended WBC champion Luis Nery with whom he was close to striking a deal before Nery allegedly failed a doping test.

This after he had scored an upset knockout win over long reigning Japanese Shensuke Yamanaka.

The WBC is yet to take a decision on Nery’s status as a champion while the young Mexican is taking a stay busy fight against Villanueva next week.

“I know Nery’s people want to gauge me by his performance against Villanueva,” Tete said.

“It is ok as long as they will come to the party.”

Tete is promising a stoppage win over Gonya to send out a message that he is ready for any champion in his unification aspirations. — Boxing Mecca

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