The 26-year-old faces a tough test in the first defence of his IBF junior-bantamweight world title when he takes on a former world champion in his Merseyside backyard. But Tete, who had to travel to Japan to claim the title with a dominant unanimous decision win over Teiru Kinoshita in Japan in July last year, has vowed to fight tooth and nail to defend the belt.
“I’m not a champion just because I’ve got this title, I fought for it. Fought hard for the title and that’s what’s going to happen on Friday,” Tete, who boasts a career record of 19-3 with 16 stoppage victories, said in Liverpool this week before making a bold prediction. “I promise you one thing, I’m going to break Paul’s nose. I’m going to knock him out. Hopefully it’s going to be a good fight,” Tete, who made weight with ease, vowed.
His promoter, Branco Milenkovic, is well aware that the unbeaten Butler will provide a stern test for the South African fighter and his sentiment is backed up by the fact that the Englishman was crowned as the same organisation’s bantamweight champion last year before deciding to drop a division. “We’re aware that Paul Butler is a very strong challenger,” Milenkovic said.
But he was hopeful, given Tete’s impressive ability to overcome the difficulties usually associated with fighting away from home. “Zolani is one of the few African boxers who travel well. As you recall he went to Mexico and stopped a former IBF champion in an eliminator and then went to Japan to win the vacant title and that’s where the confidence comes from,” Milenkovic added.
South African fight fans can catch the action live on SuperSport 7 from 11.30pm on Friday night.