By Mesuli Zifo
ZOLANI Tete is yet to receive his WBO belt after being elevated to a bantamweight champion due to permutations and already he is calling out other champions for unification.
Tete (25-3, 20 KOs) beat Filipino Arthur Villanueva in a fight originally scheduled as a final eliminator at Leicester Arena in England last weekend.
But owing to then champion Marlon Tapales failing to make the weight for his voluntary defence against Shohei Omori in Japan, the Tete-Villanueva clash was promoted into a WBO interim title clash with the winner standing a chance to win the full title which was only at stake for Omori.
While on a flight from England back to South Africa, Tete became a fully-fledged champion when Tapales beat the Japanese by an 11th round stoppage.
The bizarre anointment of Tete while on a flight was credited to the spirit of his late trainer Nick Durandt who died in a motor bike crash a day before his fight with Villanueva.
In a big reception back home where hundreds of followers turned up to welcome him, Tete said his goal was to unify with other champions in the division.
“We are targeting other champions because we want to collect all the belts before moving up,” he said.
Having already owned the IBF crown in the junior bantamweight, a title he later vacated, Tete now wants to prove his mettle by becoming the first ever boxer from South Africa to win all major world titles.
He is already the lone major world title holder in a country whose boxing standard only goes as far as marginal titles such as the IBO and the WBF.
Asked which of the champions he wants to tackle first, the southpaw said: “That guy who ran like a chicken when my name was mentioned. I see that he is now listed as a champion so he must man up and come over.”
Tete is referring to Zhanat Zhakiyanov who was at one stage set to face him only for Kazakhstani to deny that there was ever a date or an offer for the fight.
Zhakiyanov has since won the WBA, IBO crowns after dethroning Rau'shee Warren this past February.
But chances of the unification coming to fruition are slim as the camps of the two boxers are not really seeing eye to eye.
Asked if he would be willing to travel to Japan to face reigning WBC champion Shinsuke Yamanaka, Tete said he would jump on the next flight if the offer is right.
“Remember I went to Japan to win my IBF junior bantamweight title so I have no problem going back there to win yet another title. One thing I like about Japan is that officiating there is fair for a visiting boxer. And the Japanese are nice people."
Indeed Tete was besotted with the Japanese that he even named his daughter Kinoshita (Teiru) who he beat to win the IBF world junior bantamweight title in July in 2014.
He is not holding his breath about the clash with IBF champion Lee Haskins whom he was also chasing to no avail before deciding to take the WBO route.
This even though Tete and Haskins are both promoted in England.