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Zolani Tete Targets Yamanaka, Zhakiyanov Title Unifications

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.

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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.

User Comments and Feedback (Register For Free To Comment) Comment by Mick Higgs on 04-29-2017

I thought the WBA had ordered Zhakiyanov to fight Jamie McDonnell!

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