South Africa's 26-2 (16KO) Simpiwe Vetyeka has won the WBA "Super" featherweight title when long standing champion Chris John 48-1-3 (22KO) retired after the sixth round in Perth, Australia on Friday night.
The bout was stopped after the sixth round, ending the previously undefeated John’s remarkable run of 18 successful title defences. Eastern Cape fighter Vetyeka badly hurt John in the fifth round and dropped the Indonesian fighter in the sixth round prior to retiring in his corner at the end of the round.
Vetyeka, who also retained his IBO featherweight title, dedicated his outstanding victory to former South African president Nelson Mandela, who died in Johannesburg on Thursday night at the age of 95.
John, one of the longest reigning “world” champions in the sport, since 2004, was unable to hold Vetyeka at bay and the defeat meant it was John's first in 51 professional fights.
The 34-year-old John won the WBA belt in June 2004 when he defeated Osamu Sato. One of those he defeated to retain his title was future hall of fame legend Juan Manual Marquez.
In September 2009 he was elevated to the WBA’s “super” champion prior to his rematch against Rocky Juarez. Nicholas Walters of Jamaica is the currently the “regular” champion.
After he was made “super” champion, John beat Rocky Juarez (first fight was a draw), Fernando David Saucedo, Daud Cino Yordan, Stanyslav Merdov, Shoji Kimura and Cholatarn Piripinyo.
His most recent fight, against Satoshi Hosono on April 14 this year, ended in a technical draw after three rounds when the champion was badly cut in a clash of heads.
Vetyeka’s fellow-South African, Siphpo Taliwe, came close to make it a double South African triumph when he lost on a split decision to IBO lightweight champion Daud Cino Yordan. Taliwe won 116-111 on one card but the other judges made Yordan the winner by 114-113 and 117-110.
Yordan seemed lucky to improve his record to 32-3, with 23 knockouts as Taliwe dropped to 21-4-1; 14.