Despite the decline of boxing in the country, several boxers made their mark on the global stage in 2013, writes Mawande Mvumvu Simphiwe “V12” Vetyeka boasts that he has been the best local boxer of 2013. He closed the annual boxing calendar with two major titles under his belt. It could have been a successful year for South African boxers if Jeffrey “Mongoose” Mathebula and Vusi “Marvellous” Malinga had not blown the opportunity to regain the world titles they once held. Mathebula was stopped in round nine by Kiko Martinez in an International Boxing Federation (IBF) super bantamweight contest. Malinga lost by a unanimous decision to Stuart Hall in a confrontation for the vacant IBF bantamweight belt last weekend. But nothing could stop the 30-year-old Vetyeka when he was crowned World Boxing Association (WBA) world super featherweight champion more than a fortnight ago. He triumphed against the then undefeated Chris John of Indonesia. Vetyeka had also TKO’d John’s compatriot Daud Yordan in April in an International Boxing Organisation (IBO) featherweight contest. He won both titles on foreign soil, something that has proved to be a challenge for many local fighters over the years. Through this outstanding performance, Vetyeka displayed resilience after many had ruled him out following 17 months of boxing inactivity between 2009 and 2011. His lack of fight time was not of his making, but rather that of his handlers at the time, he told City Press. The former IBO bantamweight superstar also ditched seasoned trainer Nick Durandt a few months ago. Vetyeka said several attempts to sabotage his boxing career in the past five years have been fruitless. “I’ve got a big heart and, as the saying goes, you can’t keep a good man down,” he warned his detractors. “I’m not a coward. I can stand my ground. And those on a mission to destroy me failed to realise that they could take away everything from me but not the talent given to me by God.” Vetyeka said exploitation by certain promoters and managers almost made him hang up his gloves. He told of how he was once paid R105?000 for a world title?–?an amount considered to be minuscule, according to worldwide standards. But he is now more determined to add all four titles from major global sanctioning organisations to his existing ones. He has a chance to take on undefeated WBA featherweight world champion Nicholas “Axe Man” Walters next year. Vetyeka’s professional record reads as 26 wins (16 by KO) and a total of two losses in 28 outings.