In boxing every great run comes to an end one way or another. Whilst we always hope that greats can bow out with their head held high, a title over their shoulder and and their dignity, it's very rare we actually get to see that done.
Last weekend saw Paul Spadafora coming undone as he dropped a decision to Johan Perez. Going in to that bout Spadafora had a remarkable unbeaten record that read 48-0-1, he was going for win #49. Today saw Chris John of Indonesia also going for win #49 as he attempted to extend his 48-0-3 record and also maintain his standing as the WBA Featherweight super champion. Like Spadafora however, John suffered a major set back and fell to 48-1-3 (22).
John was facing Simpiwe Vetyeka (26-2, 16), a South African better known in Asia than most places. Prior to this year Vetyeka was known as the man who gave Hozumi Hasegawa a really, really hard nights work. This year however he's become the "Indonesian Assassin" with back to back wins over top tier Indonesian fighters.
Earlier this year Vetyeka stopped the teak tough Daud Cino Yordan. That fight had lead to this one, dubbed "Revenge". What was supposed to be a case of Chris John sticking up for Indonesia became a night to forget for the Indonesian and his people.
The fight started in forgettable fashion with neither man really do a great deal. John appeared to land the better punches but the only real damage of the fight seemed to be a small cut around John's left eye. Presumably that was just the re-opening of scar tissue that had occured in his previous bout, a 3rd round technical draw with Japanese fighter Satoshi Hosono.
The scrappy and forgettable action continued through rounds 2, 3 and 4. In fact so forgettable was the actual action that the key things I noted happening were John falling to the canvas twice in the second round, John firing off a decent looking ineffective attack in round 3 and a completely uncalled for "Chris John" chant in round 4. Yeah it was one of those fights.
Everything one man tried seemed to be neutralised by the other, every time something promised to ignite a clinch killed off the action, every time it appeared we'd have a fight things just ended up not happening.
Things changed in round 5. This was a round where John went from "world champion boxer" to a man looking old, and beaten up. Out of nowhere his balance had gone, his stance had gone and most worrying he didn't seem to know where he was. Twice he was knocked to the canvas and twice the referee botched calls. Instead of giving Vetyeka the knockdowns it appeared the referee wanted to see John hurt. The first, at the end of round 5, should have been stopped. John was gone.
Unfortunately the referee's botched calls in round 5 lead us on to round 6. Vetyeka, sensing that John hadn't recovered, went on the offensive. John tried to fight back but was sent down again as he started to look messy and like a desperate but beaten man. The referee again botched the knock down though by now the referee was looking ridiculous. Thanfully he knew it as he ruled the next knockdown as a knockdown and rightfully gave the first count to John, he could, and probably should, have given him 3 previously.
With John just seeing out the round the Indonesian camp appeared to do the right thing and their man remained in his corner being retired between rounds 6 and 7.