Zolani Tete defends against Andres Narvaez on April 21
By Marcus Richardson: WBO World bantamweight champion Zolani Tete (26-3, 21 KOs) will be making his next defense against 42-year-old former 2 division world champion Andres ‘El Huracan’ Narvaez (48-2-, 25 KOs) on April 21 at the SSE Arena in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Tete-Narvaez will be fighting on the undercard of Carl Frampton vs. Nonito Donaire, which is why the fight is being staged in Belfast. Tete, 29, normally fights in London, UK. In this case, he has an opportunity to be part of a big card in fighting in the co-feature bout of the Frampton vs. Donaire fight. It’s an opportunity that he obviously couldn’t pass up.
This will be the second title defense for Tete for his WBO 118 lb. title he picked up in 2017. Tete’s previous title defense was a total destruction in him stopping Siboniso Gonya in the 1st round last November in Belfast. That fight was over in 11 seconds. Gonya was nowhere near talented enough to last more than 11 seconds. That fight took place on the Frampton vs. Horacio Garcia undercard. It looks like Tete’s promoter Frank Warren wants to have him fighting on Frampton’s undercards each time to give the cards a 1-2 punch. Tete needs to be matched against better opposition for him to be tested. The inexperienced Gonya didn’t belong in the same ring with Tete. That was obvious the moment was announced. Tete is talented enough to be matched against top 5 contenders without him losing. There’s no need for him to fight soft opposition for him to hold onto his WBO 118 lb. belt.
Tete suffered a calf injury while training for the Narvaez fight, which led to the match being postponed until April 21. The fight was supposed to take place in February, but Tete will need more time to heal up before he faces the Argentinian Narvaez.
Tete wants to fight WBA bantamweight champion Ryan Burnett in a unification fight, but there’s no interest in the Irish fighter’s promoter Eddie Hearn’s part in making that match happen. Hearn says he wants to wait for the fight to build before he makes the Burnett vs. Tete fight. But it’s believed by a lot of boxing fans that Hearn is protecting Burnett from Tete to keep him as a champion. It’s a business move for Hearn to have Burnett swerve the Tete fight. If Burnett is an unbeaten world champion at 118, Hearn can keep that revenue stream running strong. But the moment Burnett takes the fight with Tete and potentially loses by a knockout. then the money may dry up for the Irish fighter.
Narvaez has 5-fight winning streak since losing to Naoya Inoue by a 2nd round knockout on December 30, 2014. Narvaez lost his WBO super flyweight title in that loss. After taking a couple of easy confidence boosting fights, Narvaez has beaten Nikolai Potapov and Jesus Vargas in his last 2 matches. Neither of those fighters is in the same class as Tete in terms of talent. Narvaez has previously captured world titles in the 112 and 115 lb. weight divisions. If Narvaez beats Tete, it would give him his 3rd division world title during his career.
“Let’s see who the real Bantamweight king is,” said Tete. “I want to unify the division and Ryan Burnett is standing in my way. Let’s not rob the public of a brilliant fight, they want to see the best fight the best. Until that fight is made I will do everything that is asked of me by my team. Narvaez is a mandatory defence and I’ll be aiming to dispatch him in style to make another statement. I can’t wait to put in another explosive performance for all of my new fans in Belfast, see you in April!”
It would be a tremendous statement for Tete to knockout Narvaez early in the fight in the way that Naoya Inoue did 4 years ago. It would send a message to the Japanese fighter that Tete is a real threat to beating him. Inoue has vacated his WBO super flyweight title and he’s moving up to bantamweight to collect titles in that weight class. Initially, there was talk of Inoue facing Tete for his WBO 118 lb. title, but now it looks like he’ll be going after WBA World bantamweight champion Jaime McDonnell next.
Promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Sport is working on putting together the McDonnell vs. Inoue fight. If Inoue wins the WBA belt, it’s expected that the World Boxing Association will order a fight between him and WBA Super World bantamweight champion Ryan Burnett. Tete could get his opportunity to face Inoue once those 2 fights take place. It’s a good thing Inoue is moving up to 118. Tete now has a big-name opponent that is willing to fight him. Burnett might not ever fight Tete due to Hearn not wanting the fight. But in the case of Inoue, he’s willing to fight the best and he’s not going to avoid facing Tete. Inoue is moving up to the bantamweight division to win world titles. He’s not going to swerve the tough fighters.