Monday, March 20, 2023  |



Stephon Young replaces injured Zolani Tete against Nonito Donaire in WBSS semis


After Zolani Tete’s surprising withdrawal on fight week, WBA bantamweight titleholder Nonito Donaire Jr. will face Stephon Young instead in the World Boxing Super Series semifinal matchup this Saturday in Lafayette, Louisiana.

The WBO titleholder Tete withdrew on Wednesday, citing an injury to his right shoulder. According to an official release from the WBSS, Tete says he hurt his shoulder on Monday evening while doing punch mitts and that a doctor diagnosed him with tendonitis which did not subside with treatment.

”We were looking forward to the fight, but to fight such an incredible opponent like Nonito Donaire you need to be one hundred percent,” Tete was quoted as saying.

The South African’s exit created an opening for Young (18-1-3, 7 KOs), who had been scheduled to fight Daniel Lozano on the undercard.

“I have the utmost respect for Nonito. He is a great fighter and from what I see he’s a classy fighter outside the ring as well,” Young is quoted in the release.

“I feel I will handle the big stage quite well and I rate my chances very, very good.”

Young, 30, of St. Louis, Mo. is rated no. 5 by the WBA at 118 pounds and was a top U.S. amateur before turning pro in 2011. His lone defeat came in March of 2018 when he got off the canvas in a decision loss to Reymart Gaballo for the “interim” WBA bantamweight title. Just hours before the fight, Young had been arrested in Florida because of past due child support and had to pay $5,100 to get out in time for the fight.

The southpaw has won his only fight since the loss, a ten-round unanimous decision win over Wilner Soto last October on the undercard of the opening round WBSS matchup between IBF titleholder Emmanuel Rodriguez and Jason Maloney. 

Gaballo says he believes Donaire will be too much for Young.

“I think Filipino Flash Donaire will definitely win the fight. Young may be a lot younger but he lacks skills and experience. He still has a lot to prove,” Gaballo said in a Facebook message.

“Donaire has a lot of advantages on the technical side, knockout power, and obviously the experience on bigger boxing stages.

Meanwhile, John Riel Casimero, who won the WBO interim title with a twelfth round stoppage of no. 1 contender Ricardo Espinoza, believes he should be elevated to full champion due to Tete’s injury.

“They didn’t contact me yet but if WBO decides, then I can be elevated to full champ,” said Casimero.

The replacement opponent is just the latest in a series of unexpected plot turns for the 36-year-old Donaire (39-5, 25 KOs), who moved down after years at 122 and 126 pounds and won his title last November when Ryan Burnett retired on his stool after four rounds due to a back injury.

The winner of the Donaire-Young fight will meet the winner of the Naoya Inoue vs. Rodriguez match on May 18 in the final to crown the top bantamweight.

Donaire-Young will be the co-featured fight underneath the Regis Prograis vs. Kiryl Relikh fight, which will be streamed live on DAZN.

Ryan Songalia is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and part of the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism Class of 2020. He can be reached at [email protected].