Zolani Tete: ‘This is my time and Omar Narvaez’s is gone’
WBO bantamweight titleholder Zolani Tete will face battle-hardened Argentinean Omar Narvaez in support of the Carl Frampton-Nonito Donaire featherweight match up at the SSE Arena, Belfast, Northern Ireland, on Saturday.
Tete, who is rated No. 1 by the THE RING Magazine at 118 pounds, reportedly had a nine-week camp – what his team calls “his best ever camp” – and has whipped himself into excellent shape. He arrived a week in advance of the bout, travelling from his home in South Africa, via Doha, into Dublin and then drove to Belfast in a near-day-long journey.
Tete (26-3, 21 knockouts) is well aware that Narvaez (48-2-2, 25 KOs) has won world titles at flyweight and junior bantamweight and will take part in his 32nd world title fight – only Julio Cesar Chavez (37) and Bernard Hopkins (33) have more world title fights in history – but believes that, at 42 years old, Narvaez’s best is behind him.
“I have a lot of respect for Omar,” Tete told RingTV.com. “His losses are against the best in the world and he only lost in the world title defenses. That alone says a lot about him. He is a (former) two-weight world champion and I think he defended his flyweight title a number of times. He has a lot of experience; however this is my time and his is gone.
“He is stocky and brings along a lot of championship experience. We are both southpaws; I have a long reach (Editor’s note: Tete’s reach is 72 inches and Narvaez’s reach is 64 inches. Tete also holds a seven-inch height advantage) and power and I am at my best now. No one including Omar would stand in front of me. The age is against him and he is short and he won’t be able to get close to me.”
The heavy-handed South African comes into this fight after blasting out countryman Siboniso Gonya in just 11 seconds of the opening round to register the quickest knockout in world title history.
Tete is understandably brimming with confidence and has a message for all the top guns at 118 pounds.
“That was a great feeling,” he said, “but that’s history now. My focus is to be amongst the best in the world and I can only do that against the best and I will start with Omar. Let us have one king at bantamweight. I am inviting every champion to lift up his hand and be counted.”
While Tete is focused on Narvaez, he is also keen to send a message to IBF titlist Ryan Burnett. Interestingly Tete is fighting in Burnett’s hometown for the second consecutive time and intends to reveal the world’s best bantamweight to Irish fans.
“I have sent a message, the last time I was in Belfast, to him and maybe it did not get through to him,” Tete said playfully. “This time around, I will go straight in his backyard to deliver the message personally.”
His manager Mlandeli Tengimfene is keen to give his fighter every opportunity to make that claim come true.
“Our plan is to unify the division,” explained Tengimfene. “If the champions do not show up, we are looking at fighting elite boxers from U.K and anywhere around the world.
“We have just renewed our promotional contract with (Frank) Warren – for two years – and we are looking forward to working with him for sometime. At some point, if there is nothing coming up at bantamweight, we will have to go up to the junior featherweight division.”
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