Zolani Tete successfully defends title to set up a bantamweight unification
Successfully defending his WBO bantamweight title a third time, Zolani “Last Born” Tete beat Mikhail Aloyan via unanimous decision for a win that gets him into the semi-final round of the World Boxing Super Series 118-pound tournament. Taking place in Ekaterinberg, Russia, the event was streamed live on DAZN Saturday afternoon in the United States.
“Aloyan proved that he is one of the best,” Tete said after the fight. “That’s why he went a full 12 rounds with me. I give credit to the man – he worked hard – and I believe God gave me the victory today.”
Tete, 28-3 (21), had high praise for the accomplished amateur who challenged him in only his fifth professional fight but the South African proved Aloyan wasn’t on his level just yet over the course of 12 rounds. Success for Tete began quickly in the first round, in which he came out of the gate aggressively and had Aloyan on the canvas for a knockdown before the round ended. Aloyan, 30, the smaller man in the match-up, was more off-balanced than anything in that entanglement between southpaws but Tete would then use a jab in the following rounds to use his size advantage another way.
Aloyan, 4-1, may’ve gotten his head snapped back constantly in the early going by the jab but it didn’t take him all that long to figure his way around it. After a closer third round, Aloyan started shooting a right hand when finding his way inside, which gave Tete something to think about. Though those shots were landing often for Aloyan, by the fight’s midway point, they weren’t forcing Tete backward nor did they have the same snap, in comparison. Tete would eventually go to the body to ward off Aloyan’s effective annoyance but not enough to eventually get a point deduction in the 10th round for holding. There was plenty of it for referee Kenny Chevalier to break up in the second half of the fight and, in the 11th, he would do the same against Aloyan to even the score. Tete would return to the jab as a sure safety net in the late rounds to cap off a clear win but it wasn’t a pretty one, thanks to the sly Armenian.
“I think the jab is always working for me,” Tete said. “My corner was always telling me to also use my legs because my legs are also my defense, so that’s what I’ve been trying to do. Aloyan is a clever fighter and I believe, sometime next year, he will become world champion.”
Tete, 30, advances to the World Boxing Super Series semi-finals and his next opponent will be revealed on November 3, when Ryan Burnett looks to defend his WBA bantamweight title against Nonito Donaire in Glasgow, Scotland (also streamed live on DAZN).
“I’m looking forward to that fight. I’m wishing Ryan Burnett to win,” Tete said about the fight, which sets up a guaranteed bantamweight unification in the WBSS semis. “I’ve always wanted to fight him. I believe he is going to win in his next fight and I will meet him in the semi-final.”
In the DAZN co-feature, the first bout of the second World Boxing Super Series cruiserweight tournament kicked-off with Andrew “The Beast” Tabiti advancing to the next round after receiving a unanimous decision (114-113, 115-112, 116-111) over Ruslan Fayfer. The contest was also an IBF cruiserweight title eliminator.
While it was a competitive affair between unbeaten hopfeuls, Tabiti and Fayfer couldn’t sustain any good action to render a close fight re-watchable but there is intrigue when looking back at what the American did late in the fight to eke out a decision in his counterpart’s home country.
A 29-year-old out of Las Vegas, Nevada, Tabiti had his best moments of the fight in the final two rounds that had about as much action in the prior 10. The right hand had sporadically landed beforehand but one made Fayfer react differently in the 11th round, after which the Russian sluggishly survived to see the 12th. Fayfer, 23-1 (16), was tied up in the clinch for much of the fight, most to his dismay but whatever rounds he won were indebted to Tabiti’s lack of urgency. Yet the 27-year-old resorted to the clinching tactic at the end of a fight that was presumably up in the air and was then docked a point for it by referee Roberto Ramirez Jr. in the final round. That instance woke Fayfer back up to spark an exciting exchange to end a rather dull fight but the result was a refreshing display of a fighter on the road getting a fair shake and the home fighter not getting every benefit of the doubt.
Tabiti, 17-0 (13), advances to the semi-final round of the World Boxing Super Series cruiserweight tournament and will learn whom he faces next Saturday night, after Yunier Dorticos dukes it out with Mateusz Masternak in Orlando, Florida. The event will also be streamed live on DAZN.