By Mesuli Zifo
NEW world record holder Zolani Tete on Monday arrived to a hero's welcome at his home in East London, South Africa following his 11 seconds knockout win over Siboniso Gonya in Belfast on Saturday.
Tete set a new record for the fastest fight in a championship bout when he drilled his compatriot with the first and only punch of the fight in six seconds.
Referee Phil Edwards picked up the count only to stop and called the medical personnel to attend to the stricken challenger.
Speaking about the history making feat, Tete said he was equally surprised that the bout ended so quick.
“I did not expect that,” he said amid deafening applause from his fans who came to welcome him.
“We had planned to give Gonya only four rounds but just before the bell I just thought that I should test him with either a stiff jab or a hook. I opted for the latter.
When the punch landed I felt my knuckles going numb and I knew that there would be no need for a follow up barrage.”
Tete said he was concerned when Gonya spent about six minutes on the canvas while being attended by medical personnel.
“I could not even celebrate the win because I was worried about him.”
Tete is not new to quick ending bouts having once knocked out homeboy Xolile Ngemntu in 10 seconds before.
This happened in his third fight but the outcome did not immediately transformed him into a big puncher even though 19 more opponents could not deal with his power.
“People tend to underestimate me because of my laid back demeanour,” he said when asked about his power.
“I am a good guy hence people do not accept me as a big puncher. But I can turn the lights out with either hand.”
Indeed Tete is a southpaw but his right hand is as devastating as his left which he used to knock out Paul Butler in his IBF junior bantamweight title defence in Liverpool two years ago.
Describing the quick knockout, Tete said Gonya expected a feel out round judging by the lazy jab he tried to throw.
“I could see that he wanted us to have a feel out session but I was not in the mood for that. I wanted to test him and I must say I went against the fight strategy we devised in the camp because we had planned to go to his body early before taking him out.”
Tete is now gunning for unification against other champions including Irish Ryan Burnett who strangely did not attend the fight although it was held in his hometown.
“I think Burnett got scared to come and watch me. But for him to allow a visiting boxer to make history in his own city is a bit weird.”