I am the people’s champion, says Tete after losing WBO bantamweight crown

‘Last Born’ was stopped in the third round by Filipino boxer, John Riel Casimero, in the fight that took place in Birmingham‚ England.

FILE: Former WBO bantamweight boxing champion Zolani Tete. Picture: Supplied

JOHANNESBURG - Zolani Tete is back in the country after losing his WBO bantamweight title on Saturday night.

‘Last Born’ was stopped in the third round by Filipino boxer John Riel Casimero in the fight that took place in Birmingham‚ England.

Upon arriving back in the country on Monday after, Tete said he is a champion despite the loss.

“Casimero got lucky,” he said. “I was starting to get my rhythm, but he caught me and from that punch, I couldn’t recover, especially my eye. The problem was with my eye and balance, but my mind was there”.

It was Tete's first fight since October last year.

In April, he pulled out of a unification clash against Nonito Donaire after injuring his right shoulder.

Speaking on his first fight back since the injury, he has shared what went wrong in the ring.

“It was a shock, not only to the country but to us as a team and to me as an individual,” he reflected.

“I might have lost the WBO world title but uZolani will remain. I am the people’s champ and I believe it will remain that way”.

Tete made international headlines in 2017 when he knocked out Siboniso Gonya in just 11 seconds for the quickest-ever world title fight in the history of boxing.

The win was enough for him to retain his World Boxing Organization (WBO) bantamweight and he broke the record set by former WBO super-bantamweight champion, Daniel Jimenez, who knocked out opponent Harald Geier in 17 seconds.

Tete’s defeat means IBF flyweight champions Moruti Mthalane is the only boxing world champion in South Africa.