By MESULI ZIFO
SOUTH African super flyweight Zolani Tete is confident of making it a third time lucky when he bids for the right to challenge the IBF crown by beating Mexican Juan Carlos Sanchez in their elimination clash at Auditorio del Estado, Mexicali, Baja California on Saturday.
Tete has failed twice in IBF elimination bouts by narrow margins as he first went down via a razor-thin majority decision to Mexican Alberto Rosas before again seeing his attempts of earning a title shot went up in smoke in Argentina where he lost to local boy Roberto Domingo Sosa by a split verdict.
In both encounters Tete feels that he was the victim of hometown decisions especially in Mexico where he had a point deducted in the last round which cost him the decision. He is particularly upset at South African judge Deon Dwarte for scoring the fight against him.
“Now I know what to expect and fortunately I am not fighting a brawler in Sanchez,” Tete said shortly after landing in Mexico City from where he will take a connecting flight to Mexicali to be on time for the final weigh-in on Friday.
Tete's two losses to Sosa and Rosas and a fifth round stoppage defeat at the hands of current IBF flyweight champion and compatriot Moruti Mthalane remain the only blemishes on his 20 fight record with 15 stoppages.
Having turned professional very early and used marginal world bodies such as the WBF to fine-tune his technique, the 24-year-old left hander is now experienced enough to return home triumphant.
However there have been concerns over the composition of his technical team after he dumped long time mentor Nick Durandt recently.
Tete left his country with novice trainer Mhikiza Myekeni who while he has had a relative impressive boxing career as he shared the ring with the likes of Thai legend Pongsaklek Wonjongkam in a failed WBC flyweight title challenge and managed to win IBO titles is still green when it comes to the training of boxers.
Since his career was cut short by horrific car crash, Myekeni is yet to translate his boxing skills into successfully tutoring boxers let alone at a world level.
But Tete feels that his skills will be enough to get his revenge against a Mexican boxer.
“I have watched Sanchez' tapes even before I knew that I would fight him so he is definitely not worrying me at all,” he said.
Sanchez will be bidding for the second reign of the IBF crown which he ignominiously lost on the scales ahead of his title defence against Sosa who had earned a title challenge owing to his controversial win over Tete.
Before that the 22-year-old who is also a left hander posted two title defences beating Rosas in one of them.
He will come to the fight with a psychological advantage having beaten two fighters who defeated Tete.
However the fact that Sanchez could not overcome the battle of the scales two fights ago is a consolation to the visiting camp that the Mexican might again struggle to make the weight.
Tete admits that his fight strategy has been designed towards applying pressure and working the body to wear down Sanchez down the stretch.
“There is no doubt that junior bantamweight is small for him and we intend to exploit that to our advantage,” he said.
Tete believes that Sanchez who has scored just nine stoppages in 17 wins with a loss and a draw, will not hurt him during the fight.
“But if I land he will feel my power,” he concluded.