Saturday, April 01, 2023  |


Zolani Tete: Donaire is my hero, but I want to be undisputed champion

Zolani Tete and crew with Floyd Mayweather Sr. and Jeff Mayweather at the Mayweather Boxing Club. Photo from Team Tete
Fighters Network

In a meeting of big punchers Nonito Donaire and Zolani Tete clash in a WBA/WBO bantamweight unification as chief support to Regis Prograis-Kiryl Relikh at the Cajun Dome, Lafayette, Louisiana on Saturday.

Tete and Donaire, who are rated No. 2 and No. 5 by The Ring respectively at 118-pounds, square off in the semi-final of the World Boxing Super Series.

Tete (28-3, 21 knockouts) has long yearned this kind of opportunity and is eager to test himself against the well regarded but aging four-weight world champion.

“WBSS has given me exactly what I have been crying [out] for, [a] unification,” Tete told The Ring. “Donaire is a great champion. I have watched him so many times and he is my hero. He is known of his great left hook.

“Nonito has not fought against a southpaw that is dexterous, he will feel it when he can’t touch me. I will make him miss and he will pay for that.”

The 31-year-old former IBF junior bantamweight titlist also has revenge on his mind.

“[Donaire] has defeated three of my compatriots in title fights already,” he said. “I respect him as a disciplined athlete, however, his last chapter is coming to an end on the April 27. I will taking over the baton in his backyard.”

Donaire, now 36, who has been a professional since 2001. “The Filipino Flash” won world titles at flyweight, bantamweight, junior featherweight and featherweight. However, in recent years he has dropped back down in weight with success. Donaire (39-5, 25 KOs) won his quarter final match in bizarre circumstances when Ryan Burnett had to pull out of their contest at the conclusion of the fourth round due to a slipped disk.

Tete began training in South Africa last December. They decamped to Las Vegas on April 14 where they trained at the Mayweather Boxing Club with Floyd Mayweather Sr. to acclimatize before heading to Louisiana on April 21.

His manager, Mlandeli Tengimfene, is pleased his fighter will have the opportunity to show the world his undoubted talent and refutes others claims of late payment by the tournament administrators.

“The WBSS has exposed Zolani and it has made it possible for him to achieve his dream,” said the handler. “To be honest, we never experienced that with Tete, we got our money on time.”

Victory will put him into the final of the WBSS where he will wait to see who emerges from the other semi-final between Naoya Inoue and Emmanuel Rodriguez.

“Both of them are great champions and they still have their zeros intact, on the 18 May one zero will be gone,” Tete said. “Whoever planned and implemented his strategy well will be the winner.”

Of course he has to take care of his own business first but the likeable South African is happy to be within earshot of his ultimate target.

“It’s a great feeling for me to be part of the elite bantamweights contesting in this tournament,” Tete explained. “My dream of wanting to be the undisputed world champion will be realized sooner than later.”

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