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Zolani Tete injured, off Feb.10 card


By Tim Royner: WBO bantamweight champion Zolani Tete (26-3, 21 KOs) has suffered a calf injury and he won’t be able to defend his title against 42-year-old Omar Andres Narvaez (47-2-2, 25 KOs) on the February 10 fight card at the Copper Box Arena in London, England.

Tete vs. Naraev will subsequently be postponed for the time being. Tete-Narvaev was supposed to be the main event on the February 10 card.

The news of injury for Tete was revealed by his promoter Frank Warren earlier on Monday.

Until the injury occurred, Tete was set to make his second defense of his World Boxing Organization 118 lb. title that he picked up in April of last year after the WBO elevated him to full champion. Last November, Tete successfully defended his WBO title in stopping Siboniso Gonya by a 1st round knockout in Belfast, Northern Ireland. That fight was embarrassingly easy for Tete. The fight showed that he needs to face better opposition. We’re probably going to come to the same conclusion when Tete eventually defends his WBO title against the soon to be 43-year-old Narvaez.

“I’m hugely disappointed to have to postpone my fight with Omar Narvaez,” Tete said. “Unfortunately, I picked up a calf injury that has severely hindered my training and the only option was to postpone the fight. I train as hard as I fight so there is always a risk of picking up injuries.”

Tete isn’t old at 29. The injury that he’s been suffering seem to be freak things that just occur from the stress and strain of the hard training camps that he needs to endure for him to get ready for his fights.

Tete wants to unify the bantamweight division against IBF, WBA 118 lb. champion Ryan Burnett, but he’s not had any luck with his ability to get the Irish fighter to face him in a unification fight.

Burnett’s promoter Eddie Hearn doesn’t view the Tete fight as being worth the trouble of making the fight. Hearn sees the Burnett vs. Tete fight in strictly business related terms, and he doesn’t feel that the money is worth it for him to put his Irish fighter in with such a good fighter. Tete still remains optimistic that he’ll be able to face Burnett in the near future, but it would be very surprising if that fight does happen. Hearn doesn’t want it. That means it’s not going to happen.

Tete’s best chance of a huge fight is against former 2 division world champion Naoya Inoue, who is moving up to the 118 lb. division after vacating his WBO super flyweight title. Inoue has taken a lot of criticism for abandoning the 115 lb. weight class without facing the best fighters Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, Carlos Cuadras, Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez, Juan Francisco Estrada, Jerwin Ancajas and Khalid Yafai. All those fighters want to face Inoue, but he’s still moving up in weight.

It’s perhaps a good thing for Narvaez that Tete suffered an injury, because he would have had next to no chance of beating the South African. It would be a nice payday for Narvaez, but that’s about it.

Narvaez has won world titles in 2 weight classes. He was considered the best fighter in the flyweight and super flyweight divisions for a long period of time. He held the WBO flyweight title from July 2002 to 2010 for an 8-year period. That’s a long time for a champion to hold down a world title.

At super flyweight, Narvaez held the WBO title from May 2010 to December 2014. Narvaez’s 4-year reign as the WBO champion ended when he was stopped in the 2nd round by Inoue in December 2014. That was the last time Narvaez fought a good fighter in the 115 lb. division. Since then, he’s won his last 4 fights against weak opposition.

”After I beat him [Narvaez] the plan is to unify the bantamweight division against (two-belt titlist) Ryan Burnett,” said Tete in dreaming about a fight with Burnett that likely will never happen. ”It is a fight that the boxing world wants to see and I am hopeful that it will happen in 2018.”

With Tete vs. Narvaez postponed, the February 10 card will still take place with the following fights:

• Welterweight contender Bradley Skeete (27-1, 12 KOs) fighting Lazko Toth (25-3-1, 17 KOs) in a stay busy fight

• Lght heavyweight contender Anthony Yarde (14-0, 13 KOs) faces journeyman Tony Averlant (26-9-2, 5 KOs) in another mismatch on the card. Don’t blink, you’ll miss the finish of this one

“I’m hoping that Averlant is a durable opponent,” said Yarde. ”He’s only been stopped twice and one of those stoppages was against former WBA light heavyweight world champion Juergen Braehmer. I’m looking to gain some crucial extra minutes in the ring.”

• Heavyweight prospect Daniel Dubois (6-0, 6 KOs) will be looking for his 7th straight win and knockout in facing DL Jones (8-0-1). This is a mismatch. It’ll be an accomplishment if the 36-year-old Jones is able to make it to the 3rd round in this fight. No one has made it past round 2 against Dubois since he turned pro last year in April 2017. Dubois looks to have the talent to go far in the heavyweight division. He’s still only 20-years-old. So it’s expected that his management will take things slow with him for a while before they start pushing him up. Dubois is probably a good 2 to 3 years away from fighting top contenders in the division. I’d be surprised if he’s matched against a 1st tier heavyweight before his 23rd birthday. It’s probably too risky to throw the 6’5” 240 lb. Dubois in with a good heavyweight from the top 15 right now, even though he’d have a good shot at blasting them out. Dubois’ recent 2nd round knockout win over Darch showed that he could do against a former Anthony Joshua victim. Joshua stopped Darch in the 2nd round as well, but the stoppage came 4 years ago. Joshua was 24-year-old at the time

“I’m ready to start 2018 with a bang,” Dubois said. “I’m working hard to be the best that I can possibly be and I’m feeling good. Everything is going great, I’m just staying in the gym, staying focused, and staying dedicated to it.”

• Unbeaten lightweight Zelfa Barrett (19-0, 12 KOs) will be fighting Ivan Ruiz Morote (18-8-1, 7 KOs). This is a mismatch too.

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