South African ready for Donaire
By Joaquin Henson Updated Thursday February 27, 2014 - 12:00am

Simpiwe ‘V12’ Vetyeka WWW.GOLDENGLOVES.CO.ZA                

MANILA, Philippines - WBA/IBO featherweight champion Simpiwe (V12) Vetyeka was supposed to fight Akifumi Shimoda of Japan or Nicholas Walters of Jamaica or Chris John of Indonesia but one by one, the opponents were struck out of the equation until finally, Top Rank chairman Bob Arum booked a title defense against Nonito (The Filipino Flash) Donaire at the Cotai Arena in the Veteran Resort Macau on May 31.

Vetyeka, 33, unified the IBO/WBA 126-pound titles by halting Indonesia's long-reigning king Chris John in the sixth round in Perth last November. The loss ended John's dream of at least matching Rocky Marciano's record of 49-0. It was John's 19th title defense and his first defeat ever. Instead of calling on the rematch clause in their contract, John decided to retire with a 48-1-3 record.

With John out of the picture, Vetyeka was lined up to face Walters who holds the WBA "regular" featherweight title. But Arum probably figured it would make more economic sense to keep both champions on separate thrones so a fight against Shimoda was in the works for Macau. Eventually, Shimoda, a former WBA superbantamweight champion, fought Filipino Marvin Sonsona and was knocked out last Saturday and Arum decided to pit Vetyeka against Donaire instead.

Vetyeka's manager Andile Sidinile welcomed the opportunity to battle Donaire who has won world titles in three different divisions, flyweight, bantamweight and superbantamweight. Donaire held the interim WBA superflyweight championship but was never elevated to title status. Sidinile said Vetyeka was paid only $20,000 to fight John and mentioned a tax-free paycheck of $100,000 to meet Donaire.

"We are ready for Donaire and as Team Vetyeka, we are under no illusion that this is not going to be a very difficult fight," said Sidinile who took over Vetyeka's contract from previous manager Nick Durandt only before the John bout. "We believe that to be the best, you have to beat the best." Durandt used to manage Vetyeka and there was a bitter parting of ways when Sidinile bumped him off.

Two of Vetyeka's former Durandt stablemates Moruti Mthalane and Jeffrey Mathebula were Donaire victims so he's out to avenge the losses. Donaire stopped Mthalane on a bad cut over the eye in 2008 and outpointed Mathebula after scoring a knockdown in the fourth round in 2012. Vetyeka reportedly fights like Mathebula - they're both lengthy and highly skilled as distance boxers.

Donaire said he definitely isn't taking Vetyeka lightly, calling him the toughest in the featherweight division today. That's saying a lot considering the other featherweight champions are the WBO's Orlando Salido, IBF's Evgency Gradovich and WBC's Jhonny Gonzalez. Donaire pointed to Vetyeka's power as a factor of concern. The South African has scored 16 knockouts in compiling a record of 26-2. His last three fights ended inside the distance.

Vetyeka has lost only twice - to Japan's Hozumi Hasegawa on a unanimous verdict in a WBC bantamweight title fight in 2007 and to Klaas Mboyane on an eight-round split decision two years ago. Vetyeka has fought all his fights in South Africa except one in Japan against Hasegawa, one in Mexico where he outpointed Giovanni Caro, one in Jakarta where he halted Daud Yordan, one in the US where he knocked out Roberto Leyva and the win over John in Australia.

Sidinile said Vetyeka is "super motivated" for the fight. "If people thought that the defeat of John was an upset, wait until you see him beat Donaire," said Sidinile. Vetyeka was like a 100-1 underdog against John, according to newspaper reports, but had no difficulty disposing of the Indonesian who surrendered in his stool before the seventh round.

Sidinile said Vetyeka will spar 200 rounds to prepare for Donaire under trainers Vuyani Bungu and Lennox Mpulampula. Bungu, 47, was an IBF superbantamweight champion who registered 13 successful title defenses before relinquishing the throne to move up in weight. He later took the IBO featherweight crown. Two of Bungu's victims were Filipinos Arnel Barotillo and Jesus Salud. Mpulampula used to train Nkosinathi Joyi who was recently knocked out by Filipino Rey Loreto for the vacant IBO lightflyweight title in Monte Carlo. He operates out of the Enothole Gym in Mdantsane.

Vetyeka is about two inches taller than Donaire but his wingspan is half an inch less. It will be Donaire's second fight as a featherweight. Last November, he made his 126-pound debut in notching a come-from-behind knockout over Armenian Vic Darchinyan in the ninth round. Donaire suffered a hairline fracture in the cheekbone during the bout.

Donaire is expected to train about a month in Manila before flying to Macau. His conditioning coach Mike Bazzel will fly in a week before the fight. Trainer Robert Garcia is also expected to hook up with Donaire a week before. Donaire's father Nonito Sr. will supervise his training in Garcia's absence.

"Jun's staying in shape," said Donaire's father-in-law Gerry Marcial in a phone call from Las Vegas yesterday. "He's a very disciplined guy. He's probably walking around at 130 to 135 pounds so it shouldn't be difficult to trim down to 126 or less. Jun has a complete gym setup in his Las Vegas home so he works out regularly. He's got the whole works, the Nautilus, the bags, all the gym equipment you need. This is a big fight for Jun because he'll be fighting close to the Philippines and we expect a huge Filipino turnout. He wants to be a world champion again and Vetyeka is his ticket to a fourth title."

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