Tshwete wouldn't have sanctioned downgraded bout

Zolani Tete

Former sports minister Steve Tshwete must be turning in his grave to see two top South African boxers being relegated to extras in a boxing card outside our borders when they should be topping the bill.

Zolani "Last Born" Tete, the country's most explosive boxer of this decade, will defend his WBO bantamweight belt against No 3 contender Sibusiso "Tiger" Gonya in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on Saturday.

This is the first time that SA boxers fight each other for a world title outside the country.

Tshwete would have made sure that this WBO world title fight was held in South Africa.

Tete's first defence of the belt he was awarded in April will be staged by Frank Warren from the UK. Warren, who has worked with many African boxers including Thulani Malinga and Jacob Matlala, signed a contract with Tete in 2015.

As a result, Tete has fought four times in the UK, but the defence of the WBO title, which was last held by a South African in 2003 when Corrie Sanders won the heavyweight belt from Wladimir Klitschko in Germany, is nothing but an indictment for local boxing.

Tete's manager Mlandeli Tengimfene said Warren was willing to release Tete to defend against Gonya in SA. Warren was even prepared to assist financially, Tengimfene said.

Now Tete's bout forms part of a bill headlined by Carl Frampton, a boxer from Belfast, in an attempt to redeem himself after losing the WBA super-featherweight belt to Leo Santa Cruz in January. Frampton will fight Horacio Garcia.

It is for all these reasons that I looked back and remembered what Tshwete did for SA. He took boxing so seriously that he would call symposiums to get into grips with the industry's challenges and come up with solutions.

Tshwete would have wanted to show the world that when given opportunities to host big events, Mzansi is forever ready.