Philippines, 29 May 2024
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Second Overtime: World class training plus sage coaching advice equals Nietes masterpiece

CHICAGO -- At age 36, with 346 rounds under his belt, Donnie Nietes was supposed to be old, over matched against a hungry lion in Aston Palicte, who was taller, bigger and stronger.

But when they fought last Sunday for the vacant WBO junior bantamweight belt at The Forum in Inglewood, California, Nietes did not fade like well-worn shoes. He dominated Palicte instead, landing with more total punches, 194-124, more power punches, 112-89, and more jabs, 89-35.

So how did the 5-foot-3 Nietes pull off the caper against a 5-foot-7 foe that was nine years younger had a nearly three-inch reach advantage?

Scientific preparation and an effective game plan.

Under the watchful eyes of strength and conditioning coach Nick Curson, a 44-year old Calfornia native who has an impressive list of clients in the MMA and a few in the NBA, Nietes went through a 10-week camp in which he built his frame and packed eight pounds of muscle.

Instead of the archaic road work and sparring over kill, Curson focused Nietes' training on a unique combination of rehabilitative workouts, plyometrics, and sports specific exercises. The diet was also disciplined, filled with dense quality foods that allowed Donnie's aging body to produce energy more efficiently.

Curson's magic formula reestablished Nietes as an elite, world-class fighter who not only fought like he was 26, not 36, but was limber as a contortionist throughout the 12-round duel.

To beat Palicte, a heavy-hitter who charged hard like a credit card early on, Nietes needed more than just his 15 years and five months of pro ring experience. He needed the perfect strategy. And that's where the wisdom of the Villamors -- chief trainer Edito and his younger brother Edmond --- came into play.

Keep the fight to the center of the ring and avoid the ropes like meningitis were the marching orders. And Nietes, ever the dutiful soldier, followed his instructions diligently.

He moved his feet beautifully, ducked hostile bombs like a daredevil, and he counter-punched marvelously, riffling back a blur of swift, measured blows that often stalled the advancing Palicte.
Nietes, a three-division champ with a 41-1-5 slate, displayed the tools that has kept him unbeaten in 14 years.

Palicte was correctly advised by his corner to diversify his assault, to throw upper cuts and hooks in the mix and not just rely on his powerful 1-2 jab-straight combination. But in the end. Aston, a great figher with 20 KOs in 24 wins, simply couldn't solve the riddle that was Donnie Nietes.

THE VILLAMOR BROTHERS are one of the few, underappreciated treasures in pro boxing. They have their stuff put well together and conduct their business without fanfare.. And they could care less whether or not the world takes notice.

When the stupid draw was announced, an ill-conceived verdict that was universally crucified, there was no outrage from Team Nietes . They aired nothing but a courageous acceptance of their cruel fate.

That was the only way they know how to react to injustice. This is the ALA way of life.

It is indeed amazing that in boxing, a sport so savage and so corrupt, can also be distinguished by the poise and strength of character shown by Edito and Donnie in the face of unfairness.

If two of the judges were not blind, and if fate had not been so unkind, Nieties would have made history as only the third Filipino after Manny Pacquiao and Nonito Donaire Jr. to win titles in four different weight classes.

To borrow the words of poet John Greenleaf Whittier: For all sad words of tongue and pen, the saddest are these, it might have been.

Photos: Team Nietes with brothers and trainers in arms Edito and Edmond Villamor, join Donnie Nietes and strength and conditioning coach Nick Cusron at at get-together in Monterrey Park California on Sunday night. Other photo shows Curson wrapping Nietes with a sympathetic arm after the questionable draw was announced.

Click here to view a list of other articles written by Homer D. Sayson.

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