Sunday, March 26, 2023  |


Zolani Tete is the new WBO 118-pound titleholder


South Africa’s Zolani Tete was confirmed as the new WBO bantamweight titleholder on Wednesday.

The super-skilled southpaw, who is rated No. 8 by THE RING at 118 pounds, scored a dominant 12-round unanimous decision over Arthur Villanueva on Saturday, in a fight that was originally scheduled as a title eliminator.

However, just hours prior to the fighters making their way to the ring, the bout was elevated to interim title status after Marlon Tapales was stripped of his championship for missing weight prior to Sunday’s title defense against Shohei Omori.

Tapales went on to earn an eleventh-round stoppage in that fight and the title instantly became vacant. If you’re keeping up with all that, Tete has now been upgraded to full WBO titleholder due to his easy victory over Villanueva.

“I think I am dreaming‚” said Tete. “Please do not wake me up because this is an incredible dream. I left the U.K. as an interim champion. To become a full world champion without getting into the ring is nothing short of a miracle. This shows that (recently deceased trainer) Nick Durandt’s spirit is with me.

“It has always been my dream to fight for another world title. Now I have the WBO belt, I want to clean up the rest of the division. I want to be remembered as one of the greatest African boxers of all time.”

Southpaw Tete (25-3, 20 KOs) is also a former IBF junior bantamweight titleholder.

Information courtesy of a press release issued by Frank Warren PR


Tom Gray is a UK Correspondent/ Editor for and a member of THE RING ratings panel.  Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing