Zolani Tete heartbroken by loss from injury
Boxer Zolani "Last Born" Tete's injury to his right shoulder three days before his biggest fight to date not only shattered his aspirations of becoming a dual world boxing champion, but saw him lose out on earning what could have been his biggest purse yet.
The World Boxing Organisation (WBO) bantamweight champion from Mdantsane, near East London, was set to get a guaranteed seven-figure purse estimated at R2.5m.
Tete was to unify his title with World Boxing Association (WBA) super-title holder Nonito Donaire from the Philippines. Their winner-takes-all clash was the semifinal of the bantamweight World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) that is organised by German promoter Kalle Sauerland. It was scheduled to take place in the US this morning.
Tete was replaced by American Stephon Young, who met Donaire this morning. The winner will face the victor of the second semifinal between WBA "regional" champion Naoya Inoue from Japan and Puerto Rican International Boxing Federation holder Emmanuel Rodriguez, whose fight will take place on May 18.
Speaking from Louisiana, Tete told the Sunday Times of his heartbreak at his dream being deferred. "I was closer to realising my dream of becoming an undisputed world boxing champion.
"I could see myself strapped up with all these belts but God closes one door to open up another. The shoulder is very painful.
"We tried with the help of the promoter to get it healed but the pain could not go away and I had to take the hardest decision," he said.
"I could not sleep at night thinking of the chances and disadvantages of going to the fight of this magnitude knowing at the back of my mind that I am not 100%. I said I want to fight when I'm 100% and right now I'm not and I won't take the risk."
The overall winner of the series will be crowned undisputed world champion and earn $10m and the Muhammad Ali trophy. The structure of the tournament saw eight bantamweight fighters participate in this WBSS through a knockout bracket - the quarterfinal, semifinal and the final.The only consolation for Tete - who is promoted in the UK by Frank Warren - is that he still has his WBO belt. Tete could earn decent purses for as long as he keeps winning his fights, and live the good life that is preached to champions by flamboyant retired US boxer Floyd Mayweather jnr. His 67- year-old father Floyd Mayweather snr trained Tete, who had been prepared for the fight here at home by Loyiso Mtya, Phumzile Matyhila and Mhikiza Myekeni for three months. The trio did not make it to Las Vegas due to visa issues.It is unclear how much Mayweather snr was to earn for his services.But local trainers get paid 10% of a boxer's purse while the managers take 15%. In total, local boxers part with 25% of their earnings.