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Former world champion very impressed with Eric Donovan following sparring session

You may not know it, but a world champion boxer has been touring around Ireland over the past few weeks sparring with some top Irish talents.

South African Simpiwe Vetyeka [29(17)-3(0)], the former WBA featherweight champion, signed a management deal with Cork’s Gary Hyde last year and has been based in Ireland ahead of his fight next weekend.

V12 boxed on the undercard of 2015 World Championships gold medalist Mohammed Rabii, also managed by Hyde, who makes his professional debut in Casablanca, Morocco next Saturday (February 18th).

Vetyeka will box David Berna over ten rounds at the Complexe Sportif Mohammed V,

In preparation for the bout, the 36 year old sparred eight rounds last night in Athy with five-time Senior champion, European bronze medalist, and current 2(1)-0 pro Eric Donovan.

Donovan, who boxes in his first six rounder on February 25th at the National Stadium, was delighted with the opportunity and told Irish-Boxing.com that “it was an invaluable experience for me.”

Describing how the spar went, Lilywhite Lightning recalled how “he was slow starting but that’s probably just how he likes it. I felt like he used the first couple rounds to warm up. I was impressed with his relaxed style and his quick variations combos.”

“I felt very comfortable but I did get tired with the pace he upped by the mid way point. I never felt in trouble though because I have 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.”

Reflecting on the experience, Donavan said that “overall it was a fantastic for me simply because he has done and still does what people can only dream about in this sport. For that I’m very grateful and he had some very encouraging words for me after the spar – which I found very complimentary.”

While Donovan here is being humble, manager Leonard Gunning would explain that Vetyeka was so impressed by the Kildare southpaw that he would bring him in as a sparring partner should the African ever secure a fight with double Olympic gold medalist and two-weight world champ Vasyl Lomachenko.

Some company!

Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on irish-boxing.com, Boxing News, the42.ie, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: joneill6@tcd.ie