Vetyeka in 'fight of his life'

Simphiwe Vetyeka (Gallo Images)
Simphiwe Vetyeka (Gallo Images)

Johannesburg - In one of the most intriguing boxing contests involving a South African in recent years, the Eastern Cape's Simphiwe Vetyeka will defend his WBA super featherweight title against legendary Filipino Nonito Donaire in China's Macau entertainment and gambling resort on Saturday night.

A champion in four different weight divisions, the 31-year-old Donaire has achieved the pinnacle accolade available to boxers at present, in that he had been rated at one time by the authoritative Ring magazine as one of the 10 best pound-for-pound fighters in the world.

Although showing signs of wear and tear to his iron-fisted repertoire in his last two bouts, Donaire has proclaimed he is now back to his best condition in more than two years after settling a series of distracting personal problems.

And the 33 year-old Vetyeka, for one, has no doubt about what he described before his departure for China this week as "the fight of my life".

"A victory over Donaire will springboard my career to greater things," he said.

"It will enable me to pursue my ambition to unify the various major titles in the featherweight division and become an undisputed world champion."

Although a past IBO junior featherweight champion after earning the title back in 2009 while outpointing Filipino Eric Barcelona at Emperors Palace, Vetyeka's career seemed on a downward path before he bounced back in spectacular style last year.

He initially won the IBO featherweight title in his first fight in 2013 while stopping Daud Cino Yordan in the 12th round after the bookmakers had made the Indonesian the outright favourite to win a fight in his own backyard.

Then, only a few months later in December, Vetyeka gained an even bigger scalp and respected title when long-time WBA super featherweight champion Chris John received a rare beating and failed to come out for the seventh round.

John was unbeaten up to that point and had reigned supreme as the WBA super featherweight champion for a remarkable 10 years.

But the pummelling he received at the hands of Vetyeka prompted the Indonesian boxing to hang up his gloves while deciding on an unexpected retirement.

Vetyeka, in the meantime, relinquished the title of the less-recognised IBO to "concentrate on bigger things".

He said he was "confident" he could do the same against Donaire as he had done against John.

"I have seen videos of Donaire's last two fights against Guillermo Rigondeaux and Vic Darchinyan," said Vetyeka.

"I believe his style is tailor-made for me to make matters difficult for him again."

Although he has only lost two of his 33 bouts, Donaire was clearly outpointed by Rigondeaux and appeared to be heading for another points defeat against Darchinyan until a thunderous knock-out punch from the Filipino in the ninth round turned the proceedings around in dramatic fashion.

But Donaire has since been reunited with the trainer who took him to the top of the boxing tree, namely his father, Nonito Donaire snr, who says he will remould his son's approach to what it was -- as both a ferocious fighter and skilled boxer -- and "as the occasion demands".

And this would be sufficient warning to Vetyeka to avoid any signs of complacency against a boxer who has previously meted out a battering to more than one South African -- among them former IBF champion Jeffrey Mathebula.

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