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List of Articles by Joaquin Henson

Nietes, Melindo in world title bids

By Joaquin Henson
20 Jan 2017

Negotiations are now underway for ALA fighters Donnie Nietes and Milan Melindo to figure in world title bouts sooner than later with April or May month when they make their bids for the throne.

Nietes, 34, is ranked No. 1 by the WBO and No. 3 by the IBF in the flyweight division. It could take at least nine months of waiting before WBO champion Zou Shiming of China is ordered to face Nietes in a mandatory defense and that’s not even a guarantee. The IBF, meanwhile, chose Nietes and No. 4 contender Eaktawan Krungthepthonburi of Thailand to dispute the crown vacated by Filipino Johnriel Casimero who has moved up to the superflyweight division.

ALA Boxing president Michael Aldeguer has up to February to finalize an agreement with Eaktawan’s manager Jimmy Chaichotchuang of Kiat Kreerin Promotions. The fight could be staged in Thailand or the Philippines with China, in particular Macau, a third option.

“We weren’t after the IBF title because Casimero was the champion,” said ALA Boxing CEO Tony Aldeguer. “But when Casimero relinquished the title, the IBF ordered Donnie and Eaktawan to fight for the vacant throne. Michael will take charge of negotiating the terms of the fight. The WBO title is also an option since Donnie is ranked No. 1. But that depends on Zou’s promoter Bob Arum. Jason (Paraga) has been the No. 1 contender in the superlightweight division of the WBO for about two years and the champion, Terence Crawford, isn’t being ordered to make a mandatory defense.”

Zou, 35, is scheduled to make the first defense of his WBO crown in Macau on April 1. No opponent has yet been named but it will be a choice defense so Zou is not obliged to face the No. 1 contender.

“Zou and Donnie know each other,” said Aldeguer. “They sparred twice at the Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles. Donnie has a lot more experience than Zou as a pro. If they fight, I think Donnie will have the advantage because he’s stronger and he knows how to win. In Donnie’s first fight as a flyweight against Edgar Sosa in Carson City last September, Zou was at ringside.” Zou’s record is 9-1, with 2 KOs, compared to Nietes’ 39-1-4, with 22 KOs. Nietes hasn’t lost in his last 31 fights dating back to 2004 and holds the Philippine record of nine years for the longest uninterrupted reign as world champion bridging the minimumweight and lightflyweight classes.

Eaktawan, 27, has a 22-3 record, with 15 KOs, and is unbeaten in his last 15 bouts. He has fought twice in the Philippines, losing to Albert Pagara by knockout and Froilan Saludar on points. Since the No. 1 and No. 2 slots are vacant, the IBF tapped Nietes and Eaktawan as the highest-ranked contenders to vie for the title. If Nietes wins the flyweight championship, he will become only the third Filipino to capture world titles in at least three divisions, joining Manny Pacquiao and Nonito Donaire.

"Donnie started to train right after the holidays," said Aldeguer. "Michael and I are seriously considering for Donnie to fight for the IBF crown although we are not completely abandoning the possibility of facing Zuo."

As for Melindo, Aldeguer said he was offered an $80,000 purse to face IBF lightflyweight champion Akira Yaegashi in Tokyo on Dec. 30 right after winning the IBF interim title by outpointing Thailand’s Fahlan Sakkreerin, Jr. in the Cebu Coliseum last Nov. 26.

Melindo and Yaegashi were supposed to face off last year but the fight was cancelled when the Japanese was injured in training last August. Because of Yaegashi’s unavailability, the IBF ordered Melindo and Fahlan to fight for the interim IBF title. Yaegashi tried to bait Melindo into a fight on Dec. 30 but Aldeguer turned it down.

“It would’ve meant less than 30 days for Milan to train for Yaegashi,” said Aldeguer. “He suffered a cut on his nose in the fight against Fahlan and needs time to recover from it. Besides, he went 12 rounds with Fahlan so I don’t think he could be ready to fight again in less than a month.” With Melindo begging off, Yaegashi chose Thailand’s Wittiwas Basapean as his next challenger and promptly scored a 12th round stoppage in Tokyo last Dec. 30.

Aldeguer said Yaegashi’s next challenger will be Melindo for sure. "Michael has started to negotiate with (Japanese matchmaker) Joe Koizumi,” he said. “It could be in May. I am sure everything will be finalized this week. One thing sure is it will be in Tokyo.”

Melindo, 28, has a 35-2 record, with 12 KOs, and his only losses were to Juan Francisco Estrada for the WBA/WBO flyweight titles and Javier Mendoza for the IBF lightflyweight crown. Yaegashi, 33, has a 25-5 record, with 13 KOs and his only Filipino opponent was Eriberto Gejon whom he beat on points. The Japanese has won his last five fights, including a decision over Mendoza for the IBF belt. He will make the third defense of his title against Melindo. Two of Yaegashi’s five setbacks were by knockout to Pedro Guevara and WBC superflyweight champion Roman (Chocolatito) Gonzalez.

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