The long Macau card earlier today came to a close with the third successive Featherweight world title fight as South Africa's Simpiwe Vetyeka (26-2, 16) attempted to defend the WBA Featherweight "Super" title against popular Filipino Nonito Donaire (33-2, 21) and referee Luis Pabon.
Unfortunately what should have been a really good bout, and was actually warming up to be something special, was ended, like so many other fights, in disappointing, confusion and with more fans questioning the referee than actually celebrating what should have been a fantastic fight.
The fight started slowly with both men trying to take the counter puncher role. Although the round started slowly it started with a flash point that saw Donaire on the canvas with with blood coming from his eye. Apparently from a clash of heads.
The second round saw more clashes of heads as Donaire began to really complain about the cut. It was clear he was very uncomfortable with the cut and the blood and it seemed that every time Vetyeka landed a head shot Donaire was uncomfortable.
In round 3 Donaire clicked mentally and became desperate as he winged in huge shots left right and centre in an attempt to stop Vetyeka. The attack seemed to rock the champion but in round 4 the power of Donaire did tell as he dropped Vetyeka for the fights only official knockdown. It was great from Donaire who loading up on everything he threw but it seemed he though he needed a knockout to win, as if he knew the cut wasn't called a clash of heads from the referee in the first place.
With the bout warming up in rounds 3 and 4 the referee made the disgusting call to call off the fight ruling the cut to have been caused from a head butt, something he hadn't ruled at the point where the cut caused it. This left us with with a confusing ending though one that favoured Donaire who won the title via a highly, highly debatable technical decision.
Had the cut been ruled a head butt in the first round we'd have expected the fight to have been called off in round 3 as a no contest. Had the referee ruled that the cut had not come from a head clash then it should have been a TKO for Vetyeka
Luis Pabon, who officiated this contest, needs to be banned from officiating after this hilarious screw up that did very little to sell the sport to new fans. It wasn't his first major screw up in high profile bouts, having also botched numerous calls in Wladimir Klitschko's bout with Alexander Povetkin, and right now people need to be calling for his head.
To his credit Donaire did offer a rematch but it seems unlikely that we will actually see it next time out with Donaire more likely to face Nicholas Walters to unify the WBA title and the WBA "super" title and when you consider the cut will keep Donaire out for a few months it seems very unlikely we'll see Donaire Vs Vetyeka II.
(ED-Before someone asks if we dislike Donaire, we don't. We do however dislike awful officiating, suspicious endings and things that make us wonder why we follow the sport. We love the sport, we usually love these Macau cards which show case some fantastic talent to a whole new market and we love fights to come to conclusive endings. This bout gave some excitement when Donaire lets his hands go in rounds 3 and 4 but left us with a very, very sour taste in out mouths and a feeling of that the bout wasn't fought in an environment that even gave an indication of being a "fair fight".)
(Image courtesy of http://www.venetianmacao.com/)
One thing we do see a lot of in boxing is a fighter continuing on despite showing visible signs of being on the slide. We see it time and time again. A great fighter fights on as they are slowing, picking up injuries, and their skills are clearly diminishing. It appears everyone else can see it but them.
Whilst there was no sure fire evidence that Chris John (48-1-3, 22) was "shot" the WBA Featherweight "super" champion did not look amazing back in April when he retained his title with a technical draw against Satoshi Hosono. That fight, which saw John left with a nasty cut from a clash of heads saw John being tagged a few times early on by the Japanese "Bazooka" and many wondered what would have happened had that bout have continued.
Unfortunately for John there was no clash of heads to bail him out today as he took on South African Simpiwe Vetyeka (26-2, 16) and suffered the first loss of his illustrious and memorable career. Worse than just losing however, John was beaten into submission, broken down mentally and physically and finished the bout sat on his stool pondering the future.
The bout it's self was a slow burner. For 2 or 3 rounds very, very little happened. The two men, at times, seemed to perfectly neutralise one another. When one men threw the other blocked, and it looked like we were going to get one of those disappointing bouts where the strengths of each man cancel each other out. It was messy, it was uninteresting and there was very little in terms of clean effective punching. In all honesty the most interesting moments revolved around John twice falling to the canvas.
Round 4 saw the first really notable success from the South African though it was essentially drowned out by the crowd who attempted to sway the judges with a "Chris John" chant. The chant however did little to effect the men in the ring who continued to cancel each other out for the most part. By now though John was slowing. He had been able to land body shots earlier on but now there was very little in terms of clean action from the Indonesian.
We got our first talking point in round 5 as the bout flipped on it's head completely. John appeared to be knockdown around the mid way point of the round, the referee some how ruled a slip but from looking at John when he recovered it was clear that he was a man who was feeling the hurtful effects of something more than a slip. With John clearly hurt Vetyeka went in for the kill.
John would be sent to the canvas again in round 5 and again the referee ignored what was a clear knockdown. Quite what the referee was doing ignoring what looked like clear knockdowns was a mystery, though for John the referees actions didn't help as Vetyeka kept up the assault hurting John in a big way before the bell.
Bravely John came out for round 6 though he was still clearly feeling the ill effects of the previous round. He tried to fight back and tried to survive but again found himself on the canvas. Again it was ruled a slip from a referee who must have thought he was doing John a favour in some sick way. Only moments after getting back to his feet John was down again. This time, finally, there was a count given. Despite getting up and seeing the bell it was obvious that John's 34 year old body had effective said enough was enough. He retired his corner between rounds 6 and 7.
After seeing John remain in his corner an emotional Vetyeka celebrated, not as a man who had merely won a world title but as a man who had a great loss then won, not for himself but for his country, his people and his hero. For John this was a story of a loss of something material, his title. For Vetyeka however the fight was fought in dedication for the loss of the great Nelson Mandela, who had sadly passed away the previous night.
With Vetyeka now holding wins over the two premier names in Indonesian boxing, Daud Cino Yordan and Chris John, he may well need a new country to attack. With the WBA "super" title over his shoulder he'll likely have plenty of options on where to go. Fights with the likes of Nicholas Walters, Evgeny Gradovich or even Nonito Donaire would all hold intrigue and all be real possibilities.
Whilst Vetyeka has a host of options in front of him John's future doesn't look bright. At 34 this may well be his last bout, in fact from rounds 5 and 6 it really should be his last bout. He looked like he still had the speed and the skills in flashes but there was always something missing in this performance. It was like cheap imitation of man who had held some form of a world title for the better part of a decade.
We really hope John returns to Indonesia to a hero's welcome despite the loss. Then after a few days break hopefully he announces his retirement. It'd be awful to see him beaten again by a lesser fighter than Vetyeka, who we regard very highly. There is no shame in losing to Vetyeka, there is shame however in trying to deny that father time effects us all, even the greats like Chris John.
Note-For the picture we've used here, we've selected a younger Chris John, the one who really was one of the top Featherweights on the planet. Not the shadow of that man who fought today
World Title Results
Whether you like them or not World Titles add prestige to any bout as a result we've included the results of world title bouts in this special section.