Zolani Tete breaks down Cunningham triumph, targets Fulton and Akhmadaliev
Former two-weight world champion Zolani Tete had seen only 55 seconds of action in two-and-a-half years when he set foot in the ring with an in-form Jason Cunningham at Wembley Arena in London on July 2.
However, Tete, who is now rated No. 10 by The Ring at 122 pounds, was razor-sharp from the opening bell and brutally dispensed of Cunningham at 0:34 of Round 4.
“[The] fight was so good and it went exactly how we planned it,” a jubilant Tete (30-4, 23 knockouts) told The Ring. “This fight also answered questions on whether we are still the real deal or not. I am happy and I once again believe in myself and my team.”
The 34-year-old South African landed a ramrod southpaw jab early and put the British fighter on the back foot.
“We decided to go back to our style of exaggerating our jab,” explained the 115 and 118-pound titlist. “We rehearsed different jabs that can unsettle any southpaw and we were prepared to go all the way until a perfect chance came. It came earlier than expected. When I caught him, we knew he was going to feel it.”
Tete is pleased with his 122-pound debut and hopes to face WBC/ WBO titleholder Stephen Fulton or IBF/ WBA titlist Murodjon Akhmadaliev.
“I have announced my arrival at junior featherweight and the new sheriff has come,” he said. “If both champions are available, then let’s get it on. There is no time in the sun now that I have arrived. However, if [Murodjon Akhmadaliev] is injured then [promoter] Frank [Warren] will make a plan for me to clear the cobwebs.”
Tete’s manager, Mlandeli Tengimfene, is glad that his fighter proved the doubters wrong.
“I am over the moon because there were people who silently whispered that father time had caught up with Zolani,” said Tengimfene. “Knowing how Zolani is conducting himself outside boxing I kept on saying, ‘No way.’ He lives a clean life; he is a gym and fitness fanatic.
“His performance reminded me of his best fight against [Juan Carlos] Sanchez Jr. [TKO 10] for the IBF junior bantamweight eliminator in Mexico.”
Although it’s early days, Tengimfene has already been in touch with Warren in the hope of striking while the iron is hot.
“[Frank] promised to make sure that Tete fights before the end of this year,” said the manager. “I hope he gets a crack at one of the unified champions. If we can’t, I would like a world title eliminator or a big name. I heard [John Riel] Casimero is moving up to junior featherweight, maybe we could do a rematch?”
Casimero upset Tete (TKO 3) in November 2019.
YOU MAY HAVE MISSED
TETE CONFIDENT OF ONE MORE CHAMPIONSHIP RUN AHEAD OF CUNNINGHAM CLASH
Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected] and you can follow him on Twitter @AnsonWainwright