Monday, March 27, 2023  |



Zolani Tete says injury will sideline him for months, but still wants to unify at 118


WBO bantamweight titleholder Zolani Tete had been all set to face WBA counterpart Nonito Donaire on April 27 in Lafayette, Louisiana. However, the intriguing looking unification was scuppered when Tete injured his shoulder on the Monday of fight week.

Tete, who is ranked No. 2 by The Ring at 118 pounds, had to pull out of the WBSS tournament with a heavy heart but hopes his opportunity to face the top brass in his weight class will still be there once he returns to action.

“It was a devastating blow to me, my dream of being undisputed bantamweight world champion evaporated in front of my eyes,” Tete (28-3, 21 knockouts) told The Ring. “I will meet Donaire at some point and he will pay for this.”

The 31-year-old South African said the injury occurred while he was doing padwork.

“I felt a sharp and a striking pain on my right shoulder, my manager called off the session for assessment,” he explained. “When we got back to the hotel my shoulder was swelling.

“I would have fought regardless. I started training for this fight in December for me to pull off four days before the fight.”

He expects the shoulder injury to keep him sidelined for several months.

“I have slight tendonitis and the recent assessment is that I will start intensive training in three months time,” he said. “The physiotherapist is hopeful and there is no operation needed.”

Tete will have one eye on the Naoya Inoue-Emanuel Rodriguez WBSS semi-final this weekend.

“My dream was to fight Inoue,” he said. “I am not underestimating Rodriguez and I personally think Inoue will win.”

His manager Mlandeli Tengimfene was saddened by his fighter’s plight but is refusing to look back and has plans for the future.

“A painful decision indeed by the WBSS to drop us,” said Tengimfene. “However, we are moving forward, at least we still have our belt and we will defend against the mandatory challenger [John Riel Casimero].

“In my discussion with [promoter] Frank [Warren] I proposed that he approaches the WBC bantamweight world champion [Nordine Oubaali] to fight Tete. My view is that the WBSS without the two sanctioning bodies is half-baked. Let’s fight the WBC champion and winner of the WBSS and us unify all belts.”

Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected] and you can follow him on Twitter @AnsonWainwright