Zolani Tete has given up his International Boxing Federation (IBF) super flyweight title – claiming he was being forced to defend his crown for a “paltry” R70 000.
Tete, the country’s only IBF champion, was expected to make a mandatory defence against McJoe Arroyo of Puerto Rico on July 11.
But instead, he has decided to relinquish the crown, saying he would not fight for an amount of money that was, in effect, an insult.
This comes after a bid for the bout took place at the IBF’s New Jersey offices last month where Golden Boy Promotions – owned by former world champion Oscar De La Hoya – was the only bidder at $25 000 (R314 000).
The 27-year-old South African cried foul. The East London fighter said he would have to take home a smaller percentage of the earnings, which was a “pittance not worthy of a world champion”.
“I’ve decided to relinquish the title because I feel I am being short-changed,” he said.
“As the world champion, I’m supposed to get a purse that is four times more than the R70 000 I have been promised.
“I would have been left with nothing in my pocket after deductions like tax, the IBF fee, a visa, a boxing licence for fighting in Puerto Rico and the trainer’s payment.
“This is an insult to me as a world champion and I don’t regret vacating the title,” he explained.
Tete said he was extremely annoyed that the purse money was smaller than the amount being paid for contesting a South African title. “As far as I know, a South African champion gets a R90 000 purse for defending a crown,” he said.
Tete defended his championship title against Englishman Paul Butler in the English city Liverpool in March.
He won the then vacant title by beating Japanese boxer Teiru Kinoshita on points in Japan in July last year.
“What is most unfair about the Puerto Rico payment discrepancy is the fact that I was paid a bigger purse in a voluntary defence against Butler,” said Tete.
The fighter’s manager, Mlandeli Tengimfene, said they had weighed up their options on the Puerto Rico fight before deciding against it.
“We were given three days by the Arroyo camp to acclimatise for the fight in Puerto Rico compared with the [earlier fight] in the UK, where we were allowed 10 days in which to prepare,” explained Tengimfene.
“We were informed that we were expected to be in Puerto Rico three days before the tournament.
“Imagine the punishment of having to endure more than 30 hours of flying and getting such little time to prepare for the bout,” he added.
Tengimfene confirmed they had decided to give up the title because Tete was being disrespected by both challenger and promoter.
He said they would meet soon to map out future plans for Tete, who was now trained by former Boxing SA CEO Loyiso Mtya.
Tete’s promoter, Branco Milenkovic, said he would not renew the boxer’s contract when it expired on July 21.
It is believed that Milenkovic and Mtya do not see eye to eye.
Milenkovic told City Press: “All I can do is to wish him well in his future endeavours.”