Verbal punches raise heat for battle ahead
The fight has no date or venue as yet, but already the boxers have begun throwing barbs at each other.
Filipino veteran Nonito Donaire started it when he said he believes he would be able to land power punches on Zolani Tete and eventually knock him out in their World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) bantamweight semifinal clash.
The two boxers who are friends will unify their WBA and WBO titles with the winner advancing to the finals for the Muhammad Ali Trophy.
Tete and Donaire qualified after overcoming Mikhail Aloyan and Ryan Burnett, respectively.
Despite winning the fight in bizarre circumstances when Burnett was forced to retire when he slipped a disc in his lower back, Donaire insists that his power was beginning to have an effect on the fight.
The Filipino Flash, who was renowned for his left hook in the division, returned after forays in the heavier weight classes such as the featherweight.
He says he is able to compete in the bantamweight with a size advantage as he is able to rehydrate after squeezing himself to make the limit.
This is what he believes will help propel himself to victory against Tete.
“I believe Tete’s style will not make it hard to land my power punches,” he said.
Tete’s team laughed off the claims, saying Donaire will pay for robbing them of an opportunity to earn a bonus against a UK-born boxer.
The WBSS provides bonuses for boxers winning against UK-based opponents and, by beating Burnett, Donaire has denied Tete that financial windfall.
“He will have to pay for denying us a nice bonus,” said Tete’s manager Mla Tengimfene.
Donaire nevertheless feels he will go all the way in the series and qualify for the finals.
The other semifinal will see series favourite Naoya Inoue tackle Emmanuel Rodriguez in a IBF/WBA unification clash.
Tete and Inoue are generally picked to go all the way to contest the finals, but Donaire is confident of being the opponent in the final stage.
He has already beaten three South African opponents – Moruti Mthalane, Jeffrey Mathebula and Simpiwe Vetyeka.
But by the same token Tete has never lost to a Filipino-born opponent...