By Ron Jackson
South Africa’s Zolani Tete from Mdantsane in the Eastern Cape makes the second defense of his WBO bantamweight belt when he meets the veteran former WBO flyweight and junior-bantamweight champion Omar Andres Narvaez of Argentina at the SSF Arena in Belfast, Northern Ireland on Saturday night. Both fight from the southpaw stance with the 30-year-old Tete against the 42-year Narvaez in what could be an even fight despite the age of the Argentinean.
Narvaez (48-2-2, 25 KOs) has had an outstanding career since making his pro debut in December 2000, making numerous defenses of the WBO flyweight and junior bantamweight belts. However, despite this, he is not the same fighter that he was, and was smashed to defeat in two rounds by Japan’s Naoya Inoue in December 2014.
Tete (26-3, 21 KOs) who has now won three world titles, with a height of 175cm and a reach of 183cm has massive advantages over Narvaez with a height of 159cm and reach of 163cm. This could be a problem for the much shorter Narvaez.
Neither fighter has been all that active in recent years with Narvaez having only five fights since December 2015.
Narvaez scored wins over Diego Luis Pichardo Liriano (16-6-1), Jesus Vargas (14-3-1), Breilor Teran (15-13-1), Nikolai Potapov (17-01) and Jesus Vargas (16-12-1), none of whom can be considered world beaters.
However, despite this Narvaez is listed at number one bantamweight by the WBO.
The South African has taken part in only four fights since December 2015, winning over Jose Santos Gonzalez (22-3), Victor Ruiz (21-5), Arthur Villaneuva (30-1) to win the WBO interim bantamweight belt and Sibiniso Gonya (11-1).
On April 24 2017 he was elevated to the full WBO bantamweight champion and made his first defence against fellow South African Siboniso Gonya, winning in a world record eleven seconds of the first round.
However, Gonya a comparative novice should not have been ranked by the WBO in what was a complete mismatch.
Tete is a quality fighter with outstanding ability and should have the edge against the vastly experienced but ageing Argentinean.
The WBC and IBF bantamweight belts are vacant and if Tete wins he hopes to have a unification match-up with Ryan Burnett of Belfast, Northern Ireland the WBA champion.