Sunday, May 19, 2024  |


Zolani Tete breaks hand, pulls out of Paul Butler fight

Fighters Network

IBF junior bantamweight beltholder Zolani Tete has broken his left hand, forcing him out of an Oct. 25 defense against former bantamweight titleholder Paul Butler at the Echo Arena in Liverpool, England, according a release by promoter Frank Warren.

Tete (19-3, 16 knockouts) has broken the second metacarpal in his left hand, according to a letter from the South African fighter’s doctor, Peter Chadderton. Warren is hoping to reschedule the fight.

“It is with deep regret that I must pull out of this much-anticipated fight with Paul,” said Tete, 26. “I have selected to take the advice from my medical team because I am terrible pain from the broken bone. Therefore, I will not be able to fight on the scheduled date. For this, I sincerely apologize and thank you for your understanding.”

Butler (16-0, 8 KOs) was last in action in June, when he dethroned Stuart Hall by split decision for the IBF’s 118-pound belt. Butler, 25, vacated the strap in July to return to the 115-pound division with the goal of becoming Britain’s first boxer to win a second belt at a lighter weight in over a century.

In victory over Tete, Butler would become the first British boxer since heavyweight Bob Fitzsimmons in 1903 to win a second world title in a lighter division, as well as the fastest ever English fighter to do so.

“From the high of winning the world title against Stuart Hall in June, it was devastating news to receive that Tete had broken his hand. My team is all gutted after the work everyone has put in for this fight,” said Butler.

“On a positive note, the fight against Tete is contracted to happen and I look forward to getting the new date. I know that I will just have to wait a little longer to get my hands on a second world title. I’ll still be on the Echo Arena show, so the training hasn’t gone to waste and I can put on a top performance before facing Tete.”

Warren still is planning to match Butler against an opponent to be determined on Oct. 25 as the headliner on the card.

“It’s very disappointing for all involved, especially for Paul, who has put everything into this world title challenge against Tete. Unfortunately, hand injuries are part of this business but it doesn’t make it any easier when it happens,” said Warren.

“We’ll announce a new date for his fight with Tete shorty but in the meantime, [Butler] will still fight on the show. So at least he will keep active and get some more rounds in before facing Tete. It’s a fantastic show with Liverpool’s top talents, Liam Smith, Derry Mathews, Tom Stalker and Kevin Satchell all in title fights.”

In his last fight in July, Tete won the vacant belt by unanimous decision over previously unbeaten Teiru Kinoshita before Kinoshita’s partisan fans in Japan. Tete has won three consecutive bouts including a first round knockout of Eduard Penerio in March 2013 that helped him rebound from his split decision loss to Roberto Domingo Sosa in September 2012.

Butler was a voluntary defense for Tete and the rescheduled fight could be in a race against time given that Tete’s mandatory defense stands to be ordered in November, according to IBF Championships Chairman Lindsey Tucker.

“Paul Butler was a voluntary defense for Tete. In fact, we had ordered Paul to participate in an eliminator to get the fight with Tete and he went around and got Tete to do a side deal to fight him instead of him participating in the eliminator,” said Tucker. “So Paul Butler may be out of luck because depending how soon Tete can get back, since Tete won a vacant title, he only has until Nov. 18 before we order him to do a mandatory defense.”