Former three-time world champion Simpiwe Vetyeka has joined Johannesburg trainer Sean Smith.
The pact was sealed yesterday after Vetyeka’s Irish manager Gary Hyde pleaded with Smith to help train the Mdantsane boxer for the upcoming Featherweight Super 4.
Vetyeka has been drawn to face rising star Lerato Dlamini in the first round while his Duncan Village homeboy Azinga Fuzile will face internationally-acclaimed Tshifhiwa Munyai of Limpopo.
The series to be promoted by Rodney Berman’s Golden Gloves Promotion (GGP) is scheduled for October 22 at Emperors Palace.
The news of Vetyeka joining Smith was kept under wraps as the 37-year-old boxer did not want the media to know about his preparations.
Vetyeka told the Dispatch last week that he did not want to reveal his plans for the series.
“So many things have gone wrong about me and I know some people have already written me off,” he said.
“I want to let them feel like that then surprise them in the S4.”
Yesterday he did not return messages left on his cellphone but Smith confirmed that the former WBA and two-time IBO champion had indeed joined his stable. “Who told you about this because it is supposed to be a secret,” Smith said when contacted by the Dispatch.
“Yes I can confirm that Vetyeka is with me now after his manager approached me to help him.”
Hyde is in the country with Democratic Republic of Congo-born Congolese Youri Kalenga, who is scheduled to face the Smith-trained Kevin Lerena, for the vacant IBO cruiserweight title at Emperors Palace tomorrow night.
The Congolese and Vetyeka are both managed by Hyde under his Nowhere2Hyde management company.
They were both scheduled to fight in Morocco in February this year but the fight was cancelled when a group of Arabs protested against an Irish promoting a boxing tournament in their country.
Smith could not say if the deal to train Vetyeka would be long-term.
“All we are doing right now is to make sure that he is in top condition for the S4,” he said.
“Everything else will follow.”
Vetyeka was contemplating preparing for the series in the United States where most of Hyde’s clients train.
But he decided to stay at home to be with his family.
Smith could not say how the talented yet fight-starved boxer was reacting to his training methods.
“It is still too early to assess him because he has just joined us. But Vetyeka knows the game and at his age he knows what he wants so I am not anticipating any difficulties.”
Vetyeka has previously held a bad reputation of being a stable-hopper having fought under numerous trainers and promoters including the late Nick Durandt, Mzi Mnguni, Elias Tshabalala, Sijuta Promotions, GGP and even a stint under Australian-based SA boxer-turned lawyer Lovemore Ndou.
Almost all of them later complained that he owed them some money, an accusation Vetyeka vehemently denied.