Zolani Tete knows it will take more than a few seconds to beat Narvaez
Zolani “Last Born” Tete will not put himself under pressure to try to better the record time he registered retaining his WBO bantamweight title against Siboniso Gonya at the SSE Arena in Belfast‚ when he meets Omar Andres Narvaez there on Saturday night.
Tete puts his belt on the line in Northern Ireland against rugged Argentinian Narvaez at the same venue he knocked out Gonya‚ from Mtubatuba in KwaZulu-Natal‚ clean out in 11 seconds in November.
Tete rewrote the history books in a knockout championship defence‚ breaking the record of WBO featherweight champion Daniel Jiminez’s 17-second knockout of Harad Geier in 1994.
“That belongs in the past. It is good‚ it happened‚” said the 30-year-old heavy-handed champion this week. “My focus in on Narvaez.”
The actual last born from a humble family of four (two boys and two girls) in Mdantsane‚ outside East London‚ added: “Look‚ if the opportunity for a knockdown presents itself‚ then I will grab it but it is not something that I will be chasing against Narvaez.
“One thing I can tell you about this fight is that I am here to win. I trained very hard for 12 tough rounds because that is what I expect anyway from Narvaez‚ who has so much ring experience in his career.”
The truth is that Gonya was overmatched against Tete. With only 11 wins in 12 fights‚ the fight against such a highly-rated champion came too soon.
Gonya did not even have a puncher’s chance‚ having stopped five opponents. He is yet to knock an opponent clean out.
He qualified to challenge Tete by virtue of winning the WBO International title against wilting Namibian star Immanuel Naidjala in April to eventually be awarded the No.3 spot in the WBO bantamweight rankings.
Tete needed one punch‚ which landed flush on the jaw‚ and it was over bar the shouting. That was Tete’s 21st KO in 26 wins against three losses.
The former WBF flyweight and IBF junior bantamweight undefeated champion is a left-hander with sublime skills.
Tete’s ability to attract worldwide television audience earned him the vote of confidence from top British boxing promoter Frank Warren‚ who signed the South African up just after witnessing him demolish Briton Paul Butler in eight rounds in Liverpool in 2015.
Tete is unbeaten in six years. His only loss to a South African was against tough-as-nails Moruti “Baby Face” Mthalane (TKO 5) in Boksburg in 2010.
Tete knows too well that Narvaez will bring his ‘A’ game in a championship that could be the last for the 42-year-old veteran of 48 wins‚ 26 KOs‚ two losses and two draws.
“His losses were in championship fights and the guy has loads of experience. I expect a tough fight from him but age and height are not on his side.
“This is my time. People must not blink‚ for they may be missing the action‚” said Tete‚ who has been in Belfast since Sunday.
He flew in with manager Mlandeli Tengimfene and trainers Loyiso Mtya‚ Phumzile Matyhila and his father‚ Zolile Tete‚ just after paying their tribute to fallen political stalwart Winnie Madikizela-Mandela at her house in Orlando West‚ Soweto on Friday last week.
Narvaez’s losses were against former multiple world champion Nonito “Filipino Flash” Donaire for the WBC and WBO bantamweight titles in 2011 and Naoya Inoue for the WBO junior bantamweight belt in 2014.
He has chalked up five straight wins since losing to Inoue. Narvaez is rated No.1 by the WBO.
Tete intends to unify all the titles in that weight class. The WBC and IBF titles are vacant while Ryan Burnett from Belfast holds the WBA belt.
“I’m at my best now. No-one‚ including Omar‚ can stand in front of me‚” said Tete.
“I sent a message to Ryan the last time I was here that we must give fans the fight. Maybe that message did not get to him.
“I am the best and I want to be the greatest‚ so I’ve got fight the best guys like Ryan. I can fight him anywhere‚ here in Belfast‚ America or Japan.”
Given Tete’s speed‚ reach and power‚ Narvaez is likely to be under heavy fire from the off and will need to draw on all the experience of his 52 fights to trouble the South African.
Topping the bill will be former Ring Magazine Fighter of the Year Carl “The Jackal” Frampton against Donaire for the interim WBO featherweight title.
US-based Donaire is a seven-time‚ four-division world champion‚ who is 10-0 in fights held outside America. Frampton‚ from Belfast‚ is a former two-weight world champion.
Donaire‚ 35‚ last lost to Jessie Magdaleno for the WBO junior featherweight title in November 2016. He has 38 wins‚ 24 knockouts and four losses.
Frampton‚ 31‚ has 24 wins against a loss to Leo Santa Cruz for the WBA Super featherweight title in January last year.
Action from this tournament will be broadcast live on SuperSport 5 from 8.30pm on Saturday night.