Over the past year or so Top Rank and Bob Arum have made a home away from home in Macau making the most of the luxurious conditions at the amazing Cotai Arena in the Venetian Resort. The cards, which have split opinions with many fans, have been great for us as they have helped draw extra attention to some Asian fighters such as Yasutaka Ishimoto, Genesis Servania, Harmonito Dela Torre, Zou Shiming, Rex Tso and Kuok Kun Ng.
One of the few Asian fighters that American audiences are fully aware of, with out the need for a Macau showcase, is the "Filipino Flash" Nonito Donaire (32-2, 21). Donaire, once considered as a top 10 pound-for-pound fighter, is a man in a bit of a career crisis. A few years ago he was the rising star at Top Rank, the next Manny Pacquiao. He was stopping great opponents like Vic Darhcinyan and Fernando Montiel with single punches, he was looking sensational with power, speed, the ability to box from either stance and an unnerving ability to time his opponents with fantastic counter.
Since then those glory days Donaire has struggled with the likes of Omar Andres Narvaez, Wilfredo Vazquez Jr, Jeffrey Mathebula, Vic Darchinyan-in a rematch, and been defeated by Cuban sensation Guillermo Rigondeaux. He has basically gone from being a top pound-for-pound fighter to a man that many feel may be so far on the slide that he perhaps only has one or two good fights left in him.
At his best Donaire really was brilliant. He often looked untouchable with a mind blowing combination of speed and power. He was often making top fighters look like also rans and his record genuinely reads like a who's who with names like Darchinyan, Moruti Mthalane, Hernan Marquez, Montiel, Narvaez, Toshiaki Nishioka and Jorge Arce. Unfortunately however he seemed to fall in love with his power in later years, ignoring the skills that had gotten him to the top level and relying solely on counters rather than finding his own openings. He'd gone from wonder kid to frustration almost over night and has struggled to re-find the tools that made him one of the sports must watch fighters.
Unfortunately for Donaire he'll almost certainly have to find his aggressive mindset as he attempts to become a 5 weight world champion and takes on WBA Featherweight super champion Simipiwe Vetyeka (26-2, 16) who has gained a real reputation over the last year as a man who enjoys fighting Asian fighters and is a real king of upsets.
Hailing from South Africa Vetyeka has become a road warrior and fought in his first notable bout 7 years ago in Japan when he lost a decision to the then WBC Bantamweight champion Hozumi Hasegawa. That bad was a horrible clash of styles with neither man willing to open up for vast parts of the bout. From that contest however Vetyeka has learned to make the most of his ability and scored wins over Giovanni Caro, Daud Cino Yordan and, most recently, Chris John.
The victories over Yordan and John have both been played down by some fans. For some Yordan was weight drained and John was old though in all honesty they are detracting from two excellent performances that showed the different sides of Vetyeka. Against Yordan we saw Vetyeka the boxer who bounced on his toes, used the jab and allowed Yordan to eat numerous straight shots. It was a game plan designed to beat Yordan. Against John we saw Vetyeka bide his time, start slowly and then strike breaking John down in rounds 5 and 6 before forcing the stoppage. By then John looked like a broken man, he was busted to the mid section, forced to take shots upstairs and beaten into retirement.
Whilst Donaire is the favourite, and rightfully so, he's in a very, very tough contest here. He's not looked "right" in a while and although he's only lost, in recent bouts, to the excellent Rigondeaux we can actually see an upset here with Vetyeka having all the tools to beat Donaire, if not he'll certainly give Donaire a head ache.
We're expecting to see the counter punching Donaire in the ring. By it's self that's fine but against another relaxed counter puncher we think Donaire will struggle and when he opens up his defensive flaws will be taken advantage off with quick and hurtful shots from Vetyeka. Those shots will take it's toll on Donaire and make things very difficult for the Filipino who will feel what it's like to fight a real Featherweight.
We think that whilst Donaire will start the favourite he will really struggle to hurt Vetyeka, he will struggle to land clean on Vetyeka and in the end he will just flat out struggle. We don't mean to sound harsh but we'd not be shocked if Vetyeka managed to score a third successive upset with a hard fought decision. Unfortunately we think Donaire is about done.
(Image courtesy of Toprank)
Earlier this year we saw South African Simpiwe Vetyeka (25-2, 15) score one of the biggest wins of his career as he traveled to Indonesia and beat the popular Daud Cino Yordan in an IBO title bout. Vetyeka's reward for winning that bout now seems him facing a second successive Indonesian as faces the legendary Chris John (48-0-3, 22) in an attempt to claim the WBA "super" title at Featherweight.
For many in the west this has already been played down as John fighting another "second rate challenger". Unfortunately this just proves how wrong some fans are when it comes to international fighters and Vetyeka is far from a second rate challenger. In fact Vetyeka is one of the dangerous challengers to John's throne and could well be the man who finally ends the long unbeaten run of Indonesia's greatest ever fighter.
Vetyeka, although relative unknown to those in Europe and America is a fighter who is known in Asia. Not only did he beat Yordan but he also gave Japanese great Hozumi Hasegawa one of the toughest bouts of his career.
Dubbed "V12" Vetyeka is an excellent pure boxer who uses his legs and jab to maintain distance. His work rate is fantastic, he's fast, slippery and whilst he's not a big puncher he can break fighters mentally or physically with his straight shots, accuracy and work rate.
Of course John will be the favourite. The 34 year old who has held some version of the WBA Featherweight title (interim, regular or super) for over a decade has proven to be a genuinely great fighter. He's slated in the west for fighting in the east but at the end of the day there is no real valid claim to call him untalented. His record speaks for it's self and with a 51 fight unbeaten streak it's hard to criticise him. Of course those bouts have included contests with Derrick Gainer, Juan Manuel Marquez, Rocky Juarez, Daud Cino Yordan all of whom are real world level fighters.
At his best John was a tricky boxer with great speed, fantastic movement, lovely combinations and solid defensive skills. As he's gotten older though the speed has started to decline, the movement has slowed and he's been dragged in to more exchanges than he would have liked. These trading sequences have lead to exciting moments in with Yordan, Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo and Satoshi Hosono.
We tend to think he was lucky to get of the Satoshi Hosono fight with a third round technical draw. The cut from a clash of heads was a bad one and the ending was fair, but we think Hosono had really good chance to upset John. The Bazooka was almost certainly going to land at some point and hurt John. With that in mind we also need to think that Vetyeka has a real chance against John. If John has slowed any further with his feet we may well see him chasing shadows for portions of this fight.
That's not to say John won't have his moments but we really see him struggling here. This won't be another "easy" defense for John, Vetyeka won't let it be easy. He's too good, too experienced and too determined to let John make it easy.
What we expect to happen is for John to make a good start, taking maybe the first 2 or 3 rounds. Vetyeka will then find his rhythm and take a number of the middle rounds. For us it goes down to the final 3 or 4 rounds as to who will take the win. Vetyeka will certainly not give up, but we also don't expect John to give up his title either. With that in mind a very narrow decision either way seems almost certain.
Could Vetyeka end one of the most impressive unbeaten runs in the sport? The answer, is a very serious yes, yes he could.
Fore those interested in watching this fight, it will LEGALLY streamed on RCTI and can be watched on their website (http://www.rcti.tv/streaming) in English.
World Title Previews
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