Former IBF and IBO world champion Simpiwe ‘V12’ Vetyeka poured praise on Kildare’s five-time Irish Senior champion Eric Donovan after the pair sparred in preparation for their respective upcoming bouts this month.
Vetyeka, managed by Corkman Gary Hyde, is temporarily based in Cork ahead of his clash with unbeaten Hungarian David Berna on undercard of stable-mate Mohammed Rabii’s pro debut in Casablanca, Morocco this Saturday.
Whilst in Ireland, Vetyeka has travelled the length and breadth of the country seeking premium sparring with Ireland’s best feather and super-featherweight competitors. The culmination of South African champion’s preparation was saved for a trip to St. Michael’s Boxing Club in Athy and a scheduled eight-round spar with Donovan, who is unbeaten in his first two bouts as a professional.
Donovan participates in the first six-round contest of his pro career at the National Stadium in Dublin on Saturday, February 25, where he will make some boxing history by appearing with Allan Phelan of Newbridge, becoming the first time two Kildare pros will box on the same bill.
Vetyeka and Donovan but adhered to the traditional boxing code of “what happens in the gym, stays in the gym” and remained tight-lipped on the exact details of the tussle, however, Vetyeka was gushing in his praise for the European bronze medallist.
“He has sharp hands and quick footwork,” acknowledged ‘V12’ Vetyeka, “it was definitely the toughest spar I had all camp and just what I needed to get ready for the fight in Morocco”.
Vetyeka, who is chasing a shot at Belfast’s Carl Frampton or southpaw superstar Vasyl Lomachenko, should he come through his battle in Morocco unscathed, compared Donovan to the current Ukrainian WBO and WBA world super featherweight champion.
“Eric asked the most questions of me in any spar I have had in all of this trip, he really tested me and gave me the rounds I need for my fight. He moves so much like Lomachenko, if I get the fight with ‘Loma’ I would fly Eric to wherever my training camp was in the world and have him as my main sparring partner for that fight,” added the Eastern Cape-native.
Athy’s ‘Lilywhite Lightning’ said “it was a great for me to mix it with a guy with Simpiwe’s experience.”
“I started fast but he soon caught up, he’s got a really relaxed style and I was so impressed with his quick variations combos. My workrate dipped in the middle rounds but I never felt in trouble because I’ve a good defence and great boxing brain. We finished the last couple rounds with a blast too, so that was class trading leather at close quarters with a world champ.
“He had some very encouraging words for me after the spar, which I found very complimentary and I’ll be keeping an eye out to see how he gets on in Casablanca ,” added Donovan.
Vetyeka’s manager, Gary Hyde, was also impressed with Donovan’s performance against proven world level opposition. “Eric was sensational in there with Simpiwe. He really showed that he has the talent to go all the way and make it to world title contention. It’s all in his hands now and I’m excited to see how he gets on with the step up in rounds and quality of opposition at The Stadium later this month,” reflected the Corkman.
Donovan continues his upward trajectory and he steps-up from four to six-round level on Red Corner Promotions ‘Unfinished Business’ bill on Saturday, February 28 at the National Stadium, Dublin.
The ‘Unfinished Business’ bill is headlined by tough Ballyfermot scrapper Luke Keeler, who faces former English champ Lewis Taylor. The show also features the long awaited comeback of Newbridge featherweight Allan Phelan who returns for his first pro fight in Ireland after a five-year unbeaten run in New York. Additionally slated to appear are many of Ireland’s rising talent including unbeaten light-middleweight Noel Murphy who also returns from New York in a BUI Celtic Title fight, unbeaten Florida-based Derryman Connor Coyle, Navan’s heavy hitting Rick Hatton-trained super middleweight Chris Blaney and unbeaten Dubliners Craig O’Brien and Jay Byrne.
Tickets for Eric’s fight at the National Stadium, Dublin on Saturday, February 25 are €40 for a gallery seat or €60 ringside, and are available in Athy from The Healthy Living Centre, 2 Duke Street, Athy, County Kildare. Alternatively, call Laura on 0867949406.
Follow Eric on twitter at @Eric_Donovan90