I’m ready for uni­fy­ing ti­tle – Tete

Hav­ing won the in­terim belt, Last Born wants to be king of the ban­tamweights

CityPress - - Sport - PULE MOKHINE pmokhine@city­press.co.za

Zolani “Last Born” Tete says he is ca­pa­ble of mak­ing his­tory by uni­fy­ing four world cham­pi­onship belts. He has in­vited the cham­pi­ons of three sanc­tion­ing bodies – the World Box­ing Coun­cil (WBC), World Box­ing As­so­ci­a­tion and In­ter­na­tional Box­ing Fed­er­a­tion (IBF) – to fight him for the uni­fi­ca­tion of the ban­tamweight di­vi­sion.

The ti­tle­hold­ers are Ja­pan’s Shin­suke Ya­manaka, Kaza­khstan’s Zhanat Zhakiyanov and Eng­land’s Lee Hask­ins, re­spec­tively.

Tete’s bold bid comes on the back of his vic­tory over Filipino Arthur Vil­lanueva, which gave him the in­terim World Box­ing Or­gan­i­sa­tion (WBO) ban­tamweight crown.

Tete won the bout, which took place last Sat­ur­day at the UK’s Le­ices­ter Arena, by a unan­i­mous points de­ci­sion.

The WBO crown was de­clared va­cant after its for­mer holder, Filipino Mar­lon Ta­pales, was stripped of the ti­tle after he failed to make the weight limit.

Tete be­came an au­to­matic holder by virtue of win­ning the in­terim belt.

The for­mer IBF su­per fly­weight king now says he is ca­pa­ble of mak­ing his mark by be­com­ing South Africa’s first boxer to unify world cham­pi­onship belts.

“I be­lieve I can make his­tory by be­com­ing the first South African to unify three ti­tles. My Bri­tish pro­moter, Frank Warren, has in­vited the other cham­pi­ons to step for­ward and fight me,” said Tete.

Last Born said he had set him­self a time frame to be­come the undisputed king of the ban­tamweights by 2019.

“It is pos­si­ble to do it be­cause at 29 years old, I be­lieve age is still on my side,” he said.

“I give my­self at least two more years to win all the belts by the time I turn 32. I would like to re­tire at 34.”

He said it was pos­si­ble to at­tain this goal as many ti­tle­hold­ers had won mul­ti­ple crowns when they were “over the age of 30”.

Tete said he would marry his girl­friend Thulisa Pot­wana, who hails from Mdantsane in the East­ern Cape, on July 18 next year.

“This day will be spe­cial be­cause it will fall on Man­dela Day. What bet­ter way to cel­e­brate it than by mar­ry­ing the woman who has sup­ported my box­ing ca­reer for so long? I think it’s wise for me to ask her for her hand in mar­riage.

“Hope­fully, this will come when I have won one of the big belts,” said Last Born.

He hopes to slug it out for the WBC belt first. “Ya­manaka has de­fended his crown 12 times since win­ning it in 2011. It will be nice for me to start the process of ti­tle uni­fi­ca­tion by fight­ing him.”

Mlan­deli Tengim­fene, Tete’s trainer, said his charge would make the coun­try proud by fight­ing for four cham­pi­onship belts.

“It will be his­tory for him to fight all these champs. We would like to see all these guys step up to Last Born’s chal­lenge. He is ready to prove who is the best in the di­vi­sion in the world,” said Tengim­fene.

PHOTO: ALEX LIVESEY / GETTY IM­AGES

CHAMP Zolani Tete cel­e­brates his vic­tory over Vic­tor Ruiz in the IBF ban­tamweight cham­pi­onship fight at Echo Arena in Liver­pool in Eng­land in 2016

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