By Ron Jackson
Photos: Chris Farina/Top Rank
South Africa’s Simpiwe Vetyeka faces the toughest challenge of his career when he makes the first defence of his WBA ‘super” featherweight belt against former multi-weight world champion Nonito Donaire at the Cotai Arena at Venetian in Macao, China on Saturday. The 33-year-old Vetyeka 26-2; 16 won the title in a major upset when he stopped Indonesian Chris John in December last year in Australia. John had held the belt for more than ten years and this was his first defeat in 51 fights.
Donaire, 31, from the Philippines who has a record of 32-2; 21 has won world titles in three divisions and was considered pound-for-pound one of the top fighters in the world until he was upset by the Cuban Guillermo Rigondeaux in April last year. Seven months after the setback against Rigondeaux, Donaire who has held the IBF flyweight, WBC/WBO bantamweight and WBO/IBF super bantamweight belts had to come from behind before stopping Vic Darchinyan in the ninth round.
Vetyeka from Mdantsane near East London is a former South African bantamweight champion and has also held the IBO bantamweight and featherweight belts. The South African is taller than Donaire and has good movement around the ring, with fast hands and a sound defense. He has never been stopped in his career and his only losses were against Hozumi Hasegawa in May 2007 when challenging for the WBC bantamweight belt and an eight rounds points loss to Klaas Mboyane in June 2012.
Donaire needs to recapture his earlier form that he hah shown before his last two fights and that is his fast hands and explosive power. Vetyeka cannot afford to relax as he is inclined to do at times and also to fight with his hands low. The big question going into the fight is what Donaire has got left? If Vetyeka selects to fight from the outside and use his movement around the ring he is in with a chance against his more fancied and experienced opponent.
Luis Pabon will referee the fight and the judges are Raul Caiz Jr., Francisco Martinez and Levi Martinez.
On the same card Jamaican Nicholas Walters 23-0; 19 defends his WBA “regular” featherweight belt for the second time when he faces Vic Darchinyan 39-6-1; 28 of Armenia. In another world title fight Russia’s Evgeny Gradovich 18-0; 9 makes the fourth defense of his IBF featherweight belt when takes on Alexander Miskirtchian 24-2-1; 9 from Georgia.