Last Born relishes Jozi hideout
Zolani “Last Born” Tete is at peace as he works the punching bag at Urban Warrior Boxing Gym in Parkmore, northern Johannesburg, this week.
This is the venue that the 28-year-old boxer, who hails from Mdantsane, has chosen as his secret hideout away from his frenzied East London home crowd.
He is hard at work, preparing for his bid for the International Boxing Federation’s (IBF) international super flyweight title defence against an opponent yet to be announced.
The clash will take place on June 4 at Echo Arena in Liverpool, Merseyside.
Tete is currently in camp in Gauteng with his threemember team, comprising trainer Loyiso Mtya, conditioner Phumzile Matyila and his dad, Zolile.
He believes that he will benefit immensely by evading his fans and focusing fully on training at the state-ofthe-art gym, owned by Lesley Flavell.
The atmosphere inside the building, with only Tete and his entourage, is vibrant.
As is the norm in gyms of this ilk, one side of the wall is decorated with photos of boxing champions, including Floyd Mayweather.
“I have been using these premises for four weeks now to prepare for this particular fight and it has done my training the world of good,” says Tete.
“It is convenient to work out in Johannesburg because I have peace of mind here – unlike in Mdantsane, where I am always surrounded by fans.”
Not that he is trying to snub his fans, he is quick to add – but Last Born believes that with the fight imminent, it is extremely difficult for him to concentrate in East London as many of his supporters distract him by coming to meet the southpaw at training sessions.
Tete is going through his paces using the skipping ropes to build up his stamina, but pauses momentarily to explain that Jozi’s altitude will stand him in good stead ahead of the bout.
“Another advantage to training here for the fight is the high altitude, which is similar to that of Liverpool and can only help me fight at my best,” he says.
While his Kazakhstani rival has 18 knockouts in 27 wins against a loss, the former IBF champion’s record reflects 23 wins (19 by way of knockout) and three defeats from 26 professional fights.
Tete knocked out Jose Santos Gonzalez at Echo Arena to win the title in March last year.
The boxer, now dripping with sweat from his intense training regime, vows that he will win his upcoming fight convincingly.
He has become quite a hit with English fans at Echo Arena, where his matches are promoted by Briton Frank Warren and have been graced by an enthusiastic audience.
“I want to keep on winning there and fight for a title unification one of these days.
“A knockout win is the result I am aiming for,” he says.
Mtya said their entourage would leave for Liverpool on May 27.
“We have basically done all our work here and are ready for the fight,” said Mtya.
“The Johannesburg environment has worked in our favour. Tete will win by a knockout.”
Tete’s manager, Mlandeli Tengimfene, said that, depending on the outcome of his forthcoming bout, his charge would defend his crown successfully until he earned a shot at the World Boxing Council and The Ring magazine flyweight diadems, currently held by Nicaraguan boxer Román González.
“González is regarded as the best boxer pound for pound in the flyweight. Tete will take him on,” he said.