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Nietes falls a minute short to win


PhilBoxing.com




LOS ANGELES. Former three-time world champion Donnie Nietes and Aston Palicte were on the same Philippine Airlines flight that left here Tuesday for home, both virtually unmarked after they battled to a split 12-round draw to leave the WBO superflyweight throne vacant at the Forum in Inglewood over the weekend.

The two camps claimed victory but the ringside consensus was Nietes did enough to deserve the verdict. Judge Danny Sandoval of Pico Rivera, California, saw it a wide 118-110 for Nietes, giving only rounds one and three to Palicte. Judge Robert Hoyle of Las Vegas had it 116-112 for Palicte, scoring eight rounds for the No. 3 contender. Judge Max DeLuca of Tustin, California, found it even, 114-114 with each fighter taking six rounds.

In the 12th round, Nietes rocked Palicte at least thrice with rights to the face but couldn’t floor him. Palicte hardly threw a punch in the last three minutes, running away, as he appeared ready to go. A knockdown by Nietes would’ve sealed a win by a split decision. Nietes’ trainer Edito Villamor said one more minute and Palicte would’ve surely gone down.

“Wala na siyang ginawa kundi tumakbo sa last 30 seconds,” said Villamor. “Dapat 10-8 round for Donnie even without a knockdown kasi he dominated. Ngayon, alam ko na ang pakiramdam ni Sen. Manny (Pacquiao) noong nadaya siya sa decision kay (Tim) Bradley at (Jeff) Horn.”

At the LA airport while waiting to board, Nietes and Palicte obliged fans by posing together for pictures. There was no evident animosity between them. Palicte was all smiles. He wasn’t favored to win but got away without losing. Palicte was by himself on the flight as his manager Jason Soong flew to Las Vegas to watch the Canelo Alvarez-Gennady Golovkin fight tonight (tomorrow morning, Manila time). He would’ve joined Soong at ringside but decided to leave for Bukidnon to attend the first birthday celebration and baptism of his son Diego Liam.

Nietes seemed despondent. He fell short of winning his fourth world title in four different divisions. Villamor said Nietes was robbed of leaving a legacy that night. “But it will come, just a little delayed,” he added. Nietes shrugged his shoulders as if to say that’s boxing.

Villamor said the plan was for Nietes to break down Palicte bit by bit. “It’s like chopping a tree,” he said. “You can’t make it fall with one blow. Donnie fought like he usually does. We wanted a tactical fight because Aston is longer, bigger and a strong fighter. The chance came in the 12th round and Donnie almost scored a knockout.” Nietes said he was never hurt although he felt Palicte’s power while blocking punches with his arms.

“Palicte did exactly what we expected, no surprises,” said Villamor. “He kept trying to push Donnie into the corners and along the ropes. But we were ready for that. Donnie’s too smart to be put in a tight spot. Donnie brought the fight to the middle of the ring where he had the advantage.”

Palicte said he was the aggressor and the busier fighter. The stats proved him right. CompuBox confirmed that Palicte threw 830 total punches compared to Nietes’ 523. But the landing rate was clearly in Nietes’ favor. Nietes connected on 194 blows compared to Palicte’s 124. The landing rate showed a big disparity as Nietes hit 37.1 percent and Palicte, only 14.9 percent. “Palicte threw more but Donnie landed more,” said Villamor. “It was quality over quantity.”

Photo: Donnie Nietes and Aston Palicte at the Los Angeles international airport on their way back to the Philippines.


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Joaquin Henson.


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