By Mesuli Zifo

Former WBA featherweight champion Simpiwe Vetyeka got back to the win column when he shut out Mexican Arturo Santos Reyes to pick up the WBA international title but most significantly vaulted himself to world title contention, at Orient Theatre in East London, South Africa on Friday night.

Vetyeka was fighting for the first time since surrendering his WBA crown to Filipino Nonito Donaire under controversial circumstances in Macau in May.

He had missed out on an opportunity to face IBF champion Evgeny Gradovich who opted to face Jayson Velez in their drawn clash a fortnight ago.

This forced Vetyeka to look for an opponent that would help catapult him to title contention and the Mexican proved to be a willing partner as he hardly tested him for the entire fight.

While proving to be capable of taking care of himself as he displayed a strong sense of presence even during tumultuous moments, Reyes did what he was brought to Sout Africa for and that is to lose.

And he lost big time reflected by the scorecards of the judges whose only confusion was the half point system recently introduced by the WBA in its championship fights.

The scores read 120.5-108.5; 119.5-112.5 and 119-109 to leave no doubt that the Mexican was never expected to pose any danger to Vetyeka's ambition to re-climb the world featherweight ladder.

But while displaying world class boxing, Vetyeka again showed why he will have to thread carefully in his selection of the champions of the division as he occasionally allowed the Mexican to connect with the left hook, a punch that was responsible for surrendering his crown to Donaire when it dropped him in the third round of their head-butt induced four rounds stoppage bout.

Vetyeka has been guilty of often becoming too casual in the ring by allowing some punches to get through and that could be his Achilles Heel against murderous punchers like current WBA champion Nicholas Walters and WBC ruler Jhonny Gonzalez or technician of the calibre of WBO champion Vasyl Lomachenko.

While the win earned him a mandatory spot to Walters'title, his management is yet to decide on the route to take back to the world summit.

“Right now we want to celebrate the win then we will sit down and plot the way forward,” said Vetyeka's manager Andile Sidinile.

In the same show, Luzuko Siyo's local brutal battle against Bongani Silila for the SA junior flyweight title in February last year when he suffered his first and only professional loss continued to haunt him when he was easily outboxed by unheralded Filipino Raymond Tabugon to surrender his IBO Intercontinental junior flyweight crown.

Since his ninth round stoppage defeat by Silila when both took frightening punishment, Siyo has never been the same boxer and this was ruthlessly driven home by Tabugon who never gave the local hero a chance to find his rhythm.

Despite seemingly having local referee Lulama Mtya in his side when he warned and even deducted a point from the Filipino visitor over the smallest of fouls, Siyo could not reciprocate Mtya's generosity by doing his own share of the job.

Instead he back-pedalled throughout the fight as Tabugon landed wicked body punches even though some missed by a proverbial mile.

Swinging away in gusto, the Filipino appeared unflustered by Mtya's determination to make life difficult for him as he would simply bow while being admonished with the crowd even coming to his rescue by booing the controversial referee.

Aware that he was fighting in a foreign environment, Tabugon never stopped working hard and put an exclamation mark to his dominance when he floored Siyo hard in the last round and came close to finishing him off only for the bell to rescue the local boxer.

The fight appeared a one sided affair than the 115-111, 115-112 and 116-110 scores.

The win may earn the Filipino a shot against countryman Rey Loreto who holds the IBO belt in the division.

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