Zolani Tete, who on Friday night became South Africa’s only International Boxing Federation (IBF) champion when he comprehensively beat Japan’s Teiru Kinoshita for the vacant super flyweight title, is a champion without a home to call his own, according to promoter Branco Milenkovic.
Milenkovic on Sunday said the East London-born fighter would not be able to defend his title in South Africa. “With the IBF title under his belt, Zolani will be in great demand. Maybe even with a unification title fight on the cards,” he said. “But unfortunately none of these fights will be in front of his own fans in South Africa and that’s a real shame.” Milenkovic said the reason the fight could not be staged on home-soil was because there was not enough money in South African boxing to stage an IBF title bout.
“What with the rand-US dollar exchange rate in the vicinity of 11 to one making it all but prohibitive.” But, at the same time, Milenkovic had a swipe at South African TV organisations. “They either don’t want to help the sport by staging boxing events at all – or are selective and only deal with their close friends and associates to the detriment of the sport as a whole.” Milenkovic said Tete had gained the IBF award for taking part in the organisation’s Fight of the Year when he knocked out Juan Carlos Sanchez in a title eliminator in November last year.
Litigation with SABC
“This alone made him a major drawcard and you would have thought that fighting for a respected title like that of the IBF would have had TV stations falling over themselves to feature Tete.
“But that was not the case and you have to wonder why. Had another promoter been involved it might have been a different story.” Milenkovic is also currently involved in litigation with SABC TV over their reluctance to screen boxing events. “The matter is in the courts right now,” said Milenkovic.
“So I’m not in a position to say anything about that particular issue. But, in the wider context, boxing is not getting a fair deal from the TV stations unless you happen to have special connections.”
The situation would not likely change in the future according to Milenkovic. “Zolani’s last four high-profiled fights have all taken place overseas and he has made a big impression each time, whether fighting in Japan, North America or South America; and it looks as though that is the way it is going to continue for him with all the difficulties associated with staging major boxing events in South Africa.” – Sapa