South African world champion Zolani Tete is in confident, yet respectful mood as the IBF super-flyweight title holder closes in on his first defence of the title against talented Briton Paul Bulter next week.
The rangy 26 year-old has been taking in the sights of the North West of England since his arrival over the past few days and is training at Derry Mathews’ Gym in order to keep his sharpness up until fight night at the Echo Arena on March 6.
Tete is enjoying his time on Merseyside, but is under no illusions about the challenge he faces against unbeaten Butler, who is already a world champion at bantamweight and is intent on sealing a second IBF belt when the pair trade blows at Liverpool’s Docklands.
“Preparations have been going really well and we’ve just been taking it easy now as the fight is just a few days away. Everything is cool and the stay is absolutely awesome here in the UK,” Tete told World Boxing News.
“Paul is one of the truly great fighters the world has produced and he’s done really well for himself. He has already held the IBF world title at bantamweight and has enjoyed some great achievements so Liverpool should be really proud of him.
“Everything I have is a key to this fight. We prepared for all the obstacles that may come up and I plan to destroy them in pieces.”
‘Last Born’ claimed his lofty position as one of the best 115lb fighters in the world by defeating another undefeated fighter in Teiru Kinoshita last July, but could have potentially been there a lot sooner had a trip to Argentina gone his way back in 2012.
Roberto ‘Incho’ Sosa was handed a debatable split decision nod over the current champion in Cordoba via a wafer-thin margin, although road warrior Tete has no worries about facing Butler on what is the Ellesmere Port-based boxer’s adopted home turf.
“Yeah, the fight against Sosa ended controversially, but it’s all in the past now and that has taught me a lot when fighting outside your own country,” said Tete.
“I must say, I’m not worried about it here in Liverpool though as they are really good people. I believe everything will be fair, and as a matter of fact, I will make it very easy for them all by beating up Paul and keeping my belt.”
Asked whether a possible unification clash with the likes of Carlos Cuadras, Naoya Inoue or compatriot Lwandile Sityatha was in his thoughts, Tete was clearly excited by facing more of the world’s finest super-flyweights before moving up in weight further down the line.
“Absolutely I’m looking for a unification bout after this on,” he confirmed. “I believe that to be the best you have to beat the best, so all the WBC, WBA, WBO champions – let’s do this guys!
“I will move up eventually and maybe go for the junior featherweight title as I’m growing, but first I need to concentrate on cleaning up this division,” added Tete.
Zolani Tete v Paul Butler in live on BoxNation on Friday, March 6 from the Echo Arena in Liverpool. To subscribe click BoxNation.