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World champion Tete thrilled on return back 'home' to defend belt

By David Kelly

World champion Zolani Tete says Belfast is starting to feel like his second home such is the respect that has been flowing his way having returned to make another defence of his WBO World bantamweight title tomorrow night.

The little hammer-fisted South African puts his belt on the line against fellow two-weight world champion Omar Andres Narvaez, on the back of a record 11-second knockout victory last November in the SSE Arena.

"Belfast is the best atmosphere that I've ever experienced. I've fought in Mexico, I've fought in Argentina but this is the best. I've never seen anything like it when I was fighting on the undercard of Carl Frampton's last fight. I love it here. I feel like an adopted Irishman," said Tete, speaking exclusively to the Belfast Telegraph.

"I am really looking forward to hearing the crowd, to hear the singing. The last time I felt at home, I felt the love and I hope I feel that again.

"Then, after this fight I want Ryan Burnett and I want to fight him in Belfast," he added.

"He is the WBA champion, I'm the WBO champion and I feel there has to be a unification fight. The fans want it and I want it and if it doesn't happen, it's not my fault.

"Maybe his promoter Eddie Hearn wants Ryan to make a lot more money before he faces me.

"I certainly don't want to finish the year without having another world title belt.

"I want to leave a legacy in boxing, for the kids in South Africa - to be an inspiration to them. That means a lot to me, it's a big motivation."

While Tete does not believe he will have as quick a night as the last time, the 30-year-old nevertheless remains supremely confident he will remain on course for a potential showdown with Burnett.

"I'm going in against a more experienced fighter and so I expect the fight will last longer but I know that I'm going to beat him and after this he will have to think about retirement. I know I have the power to get the stoppage and I want the stoppage because I don't want to leave it up to the judges.

"I had bad experiences in Mexico and Argentina when I won fights and the judges didn't give me the decision. I've been beaten on home-town decisions so I don't want to leave it to judges."

While Tete is eager to face off with Burnett in order to prove he is "the king" of the bantamweight division, his promoter Frank Warren is not convinced the fight will happen.

"The fact is that they don't want the fight. They don't want Burnett anywhere hear Zolani," said Warren.

"If they are really serious about doing the fight then let's get it done. They know where we are so if they are serious we can do a deal.

"I've even offered to pay Zolani's purse. The Belfast public would love it.

"I know there is some talk about Burnett going into the World Boxing Super Series but I don't know why the two guys should need to go into that tournament when the two guys can just go ahead and fight."

The stage is nevertheless set for Tete to make another big impression in Belfast tomorrow evening - and do his best to lure Burnett into a mouth-watering showdown.

Belfast Telegraph

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