By: William Holmes
On Saturday afternoon HBO will be broadcasting two world championship title bouts that will be taking place outside of the United States. Carl Froch and George Groves are set to box for Froch’s IBF and WBA Super Middleweight Titles in London, England and Simpiwe Vetyeka and Nonito Donaire will box for Vetyeka’s WBA Featherweight title in Macau, China.
Photo: Chris Farina/Top Rank
Both of these bouts will represent a much needed break from the normal televised expected mismatches for fight fans that aren’t willing to fork over an exorbitant amount, and are both expected to be competitive and entertaining bouts.
The following is a preview of both of the televised bouts on HBO.
Nonito Donaire (32-2) vs. Simpiwe Vetyeka (26-2); WBA Featherweight Title
Donaire was long considered a top pound for pound boxer, but a dominating loss to current Super Bantamweight World Champion Guillermo Rigondeaux stole some of the luster he had. He has since bumped up to the featherweight division, but did not look like his normal devastating self in his last bout against Vic Darchinyan.
His opponent, South African boxer Simpiwe Vetyeka, was relatively unknown except for amongst the die hard boxing fans. He won his first world title with a TKO victory over Daud Cino Yordan in April of 2013 that netted him the IBO Featherweight title. But he really burst onto the scene with a sixth round stoppage over the formidable and legendary Indonesian Chris John.
Chris John has long been considered the top professional boxer to fight primarily in Asia, but his loss to Vetyeka was so demoralizing and dominating that John retired after the bout.
In terms of amateur experience, Donaire has the edge. He won three national amateur championships in the United States and had an amateur record of 68-8.
Vetyeka will have a slight height advantage, but Donaire will have a slight reach advantage. In terms of power they are both similar, but Donaire has a slight edge in this department. Donaire has twenty one stoppages on his record while Vetyeka has sixteen. However, four of Vetyeka’s last five victories have come by way of stoppage while three of Donaire’s last five victories have come by way of stoppage.
Donaire clearly has the more impressive list of defeated opponents. He has defeated the likes of Vic Darchinyan, Jorge Arce, Toshiaki Nishioka, Jeffrey Mathebula, Fernando Montiel, and Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. Vetyeka has defeated the likes of Chris John, Daud Cino Yordan, and Giovanni Caro.
Vetyeka does have two losses on his record. A split decision loss to the unheralded Klaas Mboyane in 2012 and to Hozumi Hasegawa in 2007. However, many observers felt Vetyeka defeated Hasegawa in his 2007 WBC Bantamweight Title bout.
This is a dangerous opponent for Donaire, but fighting in Asia should make him the crowd favorite. Vetyeka however, is an opponent that is more than willing to travel to fight and his dominant victory over Chris John opened up a lot of eyes.
Donaire hasn’t looked like himself recently and it wouldn’t be shocking if he lost on Saturday night, but he should have enough talent to pull off the victory.
Carl Froch (32-2) vs. George Groves (20-1); IBF/WBA Super Middleweight Title
If you hear someone say “boxing is dead”, show them this bout on Saturday when Carl Froch and George Groves do battle in front of 80,000 rabid fans in Wembley stadium.
This bout is a rematch of the highly controversial 9th round TKO victory by Carl Froch over George Groves. Groves had knocked Froch down in the first round and was ahead on points going into the ninth, but the referee stopped the bout in the ninth when Froch had hurt, but not knocked down, Groves.
Both Groves and Froch had successful amateur careers, but it was Groves who was more successful on the international stage. Groves is twenty six years old and ten years younger than Froch, and he has also been in less wars than his opponent. Age has the potential to be a significant factor in this fight.
Froch has the height and reach advantage over Groves. But Groves has the higher knockout percentage. Groves has stopped 75% of his opponents while Froch has stopped 67% of his opponents.
Froch has clearly faced the tougher opposition and placed second in the competitive Super Six Tournament. Froch has defeated the likes of Mikkel Kessler, Yusaf Mack, Lucian Bute, Glen Johnson, Arthur Abraham, Jean Pascal, Jermain Taylor and Andre Dirrell. His two losses have come against Andre Ward and MIkkel Kessler. He was able to avenge his loss to Kessler, but he was soundly beaten by Ward in 2011.
Groves biggest fight to date was his controversial loss to Carl Froch. He has also defeated the likes of Glen Johnson, by a wide margin, Noe Alcoba, James DeGale, and Paul Smith.
The hype for this bout in the United Kingdom has been incredible and both boxers seem ready to go.
Carl Froch offered this thoughts in the final press conference for Saturday’s bout. “I’ve prepared for this fight like no other fight before. Unbelievable shape. Just perfect shape.” He went on to state, “I think every fight in every professional boxer’s career is equally as important. This one, because of the stage in my career, because of these two world titles, because it’s an immediate return against George Groves, has an air of importance.”
Groves strongly believes he is going to win. He stated, “This couldn’t be more perfect really. I’m going to become World Champion in London.” He went on to state, “It wll be the left hook that finishes Carl Froch on Saturday night.”
This will be a close bout and likely just as entertaining as the first one. It’s highly unlikely that a referee will make the same mistake of stopping this bout early, but Groves did appear he was well on his way to victory before the referee stopped the fight.
It’s a tough one to pick, but this writer feels Froch has been in too many wars to defeat the much younger George Groves.