Johannesburg – South Africa's IBO featherweight champion Simpiwe Vetyeka stopped Indonesian legend and WBA champion Chris John after six rounds at the Kingsway Indoor Arena in Perth on Saturday.
In the process after a stunning, brawling unification bout, Vetyeka became the first South African in more than a decade to hold the titles of the IBO and the WBA simultaneously and earn a place among boxing's handful of unified champions.
“I dedicate this win to the memory of the late Nelson Mandela,” said Vetyeka afterwards.
“He was my hero and inspiration.”
Unbeaten in 51 fights with 48 victories and three draws, John was the longest-reigning WBA title-holder before coming up against Vetyeka, and has been revered in Indonesia as one of the country's premier sports heroes for more than a decade.
He was chasing the record of legendary heavyweight Rocky Marcianio, who secured 49 straight victories in an unbeaten career of 49 fights.
But John found the relentless Vetyeka too much of a handful from the outset and became frustrated in the face of heavy punishment, finally failing to come out of his corner for the start of the seventh round and suffering a TKO defeat.
“This win marks a remarkable comeback for Vetyeka,” said trainer Nick Durandt.
“He had lost a couple of fights against boxing non-entities and his career seemed all washed up at one stage.
“But it was all a matter of disciplined, hard training and getting Simpiwe back into shape – with the results speaking for themselves in the last couple of months.”
The fight in Perth between Vetyeka and John aroused widespread interest in a city hoping to make its mark as a top boxing venue in Australia.
Vetyeka captured an IBO title in Jakarta, Indonesia earlier in the year with another stunning, 12th-round TKO win over highly-regarded defending champion Daud Cino Yordan.
The South African became an instant attraction in the area, culminating in his match-up against John. – Sapa