Tete, Gonya to slug it out in Belfast
After months of uncertainty, Zolani “Last Born” Tete’s voluntary defence of his World Boxing Organisation (WBO) bantamweight title against fellow South African Siboniso Gonya is finally back on track.
According to Tete’s manager, Mlandeli Thengimfene, the pair will slug it out at the SSE Arena in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on November 18.
Tete is arguably the country’s hottest fighter at the moment by virtue of having previously held the International Boxing Federation (IBF) crown.
He was supposed to have put his title on the line against the KwaZulu-Natal-born Gonya at Mdantsane’s Sisa Dukashe Stadium three weeks ago, but it could not take place in Tete’s backyard after the Eastern Cape department of sport failed to secure funds to stage the fight, despite having promised to do so.
Gonya is the current WBO intercontinental title holder and third in contention for Tete’s championship belt.
“Seeing that there has been uncertainty regarding the staging of the fight in South Africa, Tete’s British promoter, Queensberry Promotions, decided to intervene by staging the fight in Belfast,” said Thengimfene.
“It’s a pity that a fight featuring two South Africans has to take place in Belfast, which is far away from the home fans of both boxers. But the good thing is that the match is definitely on.”
Thengimfene said his charge would relocate to Johannesburg this week to set up a training camp for the clash.
He will be with trainer Mhikiza Myekeni, the same mentor who was in the corner when Last Born won the IBF superflyweight crown after beating Japanese Teiru Kinoshita by a unanimous points decision in Kobe, Japan, in 2014. Phumzile Matyila will also help with Tete’s preparations.
Two months ago, Tete severed ties with his chief trainer, Loyiso Mtya, after the boxer and his manager suggested enlisting the services of an overseas trainer to help Last Born in future. This did not go down well with Mtya, who felt undermined as the boxer’s mentor.
With a fight record of 25 wins and three defeats from 28 outings, Last Born beat Arthur Villanueva by a unanimous points decision at the Leicester Arena in the UK to claim the interim WBO diadem in April.
Gonya has lost once in a professional boxing career spaning 11 fights.
Tete said: “I am really looking forward to defending against Gonya, who is a good fighter. It’s a pity we will be fighting in a foreign country, but I guess that’s how it is. I’m looking forward to winning and proving that I’m not a WBO champ for nothing.”
His main aim is to fight Mexican Luis Nery for the World Boxing Council and WBO title unification in the near future.
Gonya’s promoter, Thulani Magudulela, said his charge was ready to win and be crowned KwaZulu-Natal’s first WBO title holder.
“Gonya has just signed the contract for this clash. He is confident of dethroning Tete and putting KwaZulu-Natal on the map,” Magudulela said.
Attempts to get hold of Queensberry’s Frank Warren for comment were unsuccessful.
However, a woman who claimed to work for Queensberry Promotions confirmed the fight would take place.
Zolani Tete will take on Siboniso Gonya in Ireland