Tete, Gonya to slug it out in Belfast

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

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

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