By Mesuli Zifo
The IBF junior bantamweight belt might have a new owner after Puerto Rican McJoe Arroyo ascended the throne with a technical decision win over Filipino Arthur Villanueva at Don Haskins Center in El Paso, Texas at the weekend but Arroyo’s predecessor Zolani Tete insists that he is still the champion.
The South African left-hander dumped the belt into the dustbin when he realised that he would be paid a paltry purse for risking it against the Puerto Rican.
This after Golden Boy Promotions won the purse bids with just $25 000 which would have meant Tete would have been entitled to just 75 % of the bid.
Coupled with unfavourable conditions such having to arrive at the fight venue just four days before the clash, Tete (20-3, 17 KOs) opted to abdicate the crown rather than subject himself to disadvantages.
After watching Arroyo and Villanueva battling it out for the vacant crown, the hard- hitting Tete shook his head in disappointment.
“Firstly I did not see any of the two boxers deserving to fight for my title with the performance they put forth,” he said.
“Secondly Arroyo may have been declared a winner but he must know deep down that the true champion is still Zolani Tete. They use the belt as the ATM to make money but I hope one day our paths will cross when I have acquired another world title and then we can unify.”
Tete is still bitter with the manner in which he had to part with his title after retaining it in scintillating fashion when he knocked out previously unbeaten British star Paul Butler in eight rounds in his last fight in Liverpool, UK this past March.
The win proved that Tete is the world class fighter having first dealt a tenth round knockout beating over Mexican Juan Carlos Sanchez in his own backyard in an eliminator two years ago.
He then dusted off his passport and headed to Japan where he also inflicted the first professional loss to Teiru Kinoshita to lift the vacant belt.
Despite opting to vacate the IBF, Tete who is scheduled to return to the ring on September 6 in his home town of East London, South Africa, against an opponent yet to be named, says he still values the IBF belt.
“I become the world champion when I won the IBF belt and I did so on Nelson Mandela’s birthday so to me that will for ever remain etched in my memory. The IBF will always have a special place in my heart and like I said I would love to take back my title from these pretenders.”