Zolani Tete aiming for undisputed champion status as WBSS debut nears
Hammer-fisted WBO bantamweight titlist Zolani Tete will make his World Boxing Super Series debut against former amateur standout Mikhail Aloyan in Ekaterinberg, Russia, on Saturday.
Tete, who is ranked No. 2 by The Ring at 118 pounds, has long wanted the opportunity to test his skills against the best in his division, but that wasn’t possible until the WBSS.
“This is a new phenomenon in boxing history; it brings the best versus the best, brings belts, it brings money and it brings the status,” Tete excitedly told The Ring. “What else do we want as boxers? All in one package.”
The 30-year-old South African is respectful of his Russian opponent, who appears to be something of a wild card in the tournament. Fighting as an amateur flyweight (115 pounds) Aloyan won gold at the 2011 and 2013 World Amateur Boxing Championships, as well as bronze and silver medals at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, respectively.
“He has a tremendous amateur pedigree. Lots of experience with him,” said Tete. “He is a switch-hitter, he can move — typical Olympic amateur style, but he will taste the real eight-ounce Grant gloves and not 10 ounces. He will face an awkward, tall and slick natural southpaw.
“The fight is going to be won by the most hungry in the business. I will bring my A-game on the day, and I can tell you he will not know which side is he being punished on.”
The prospect of fighting Aloyan in his backyard would be a daunting one for most, but it’s water off a duck’s back to the well-traveled beltholder.
“I have been to South America three times, Japan, U.K.,” said Tete. “Russia and South Africa share a time zone. It will be like I am home in Mdantsane come the fight night.”
His manager, Mlandeli Tengimfene, is pleased his fighter will have the opportunity to show the world his undoubted talent.
“It has always been Zolani’s dream to be an undisputed world champion, and this tournament has just made it easy for him,” said Tengimfene. “Come May/June 2019, history will be written. He will be the first ever African boxer to be an undisputed world champion.” [Editor’s note: Dick Tiger, who was from Nigeria, was a former undisputed champion at light heavyweight and middleweight.]
“Easy” may prove difficult, though. If he can get past Aloyan as well as the winner of Nonito Donaire-Ryan Burnett in the semifinal, Tete would likely face No. 1-rated Naoya Inoue, who needed less than a round to take care of Juan Carlos Payano, in the final.
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