Diminishing Options for Nietes
By Teodoro Medina Reynoso
Sat, 25 Jan 2020
As his famous moniker, former multi division Filipino world boxing champion Donnie Nietes is like a King Cobra being deprived of a natural habitat and hunting ground.
Since December when Nietes made a personal appearance and appeal during the World Boxing Organization Convention in Tokyo, Japan, the WBO has yet to include him in its ranking in the super flyweight division.
This is baffling as Nietes once reigned as its champion in the weight class as recently as in the late 2018 to early 2019 and for many years previously has had lengthy, distinguished tenures as WBO minimumweight and light flyweight titlist. The Filipino also briefly reigned as IBF flyweight champion before he won the WBO super flyweight belt vacated by Naoya Inoue by beating another illustrious Japanese fighter Kazuto Ioka in November 2018.
Most probably, the WBO was offended by Nietes unceremoniously dumping that same belt rather than defend it against fellow Pinoy Aston Palicte with whom he in September of 2018 figured in a controversial draw for the title vacated by Inoue. Nietes, as many others, believed he won that fight and meeting him again in a title rematch would be pointless.
But Palicte earned the mandatory by knocking out Puerto Rican Jose Martinez in their title eliminator and the WBO had to enforce its rules. Martinez had previously drawn twice against Santiago Barrios who nearly upset Filipino IBF super flyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas in 2018.
With Nietes vacating, the WBO ordered Ioka and Palicte being the then highest rated contenders to fight for the title. Ioka stopped Palicte to gain the championship, becoming the first Japanese quadruple world champion.
In Ioka, the WBO must have found a suitable champion after Inoue who could serve the interest of the organization better in terms of being a more active titleholder which means more and bigger sanctioning fees. Japanese world champions readily make title defenses especially in their own country where their fights are televised arranged by rich promoters and supported by networks and their commercial sponsors.
In fact, Ioka has already made one successful, high profile title defense last December against Puerto Rican mandatory challenger Jayvier Cintron. His handlers are reportedly interested in unification against the other big name champions in the division or at least another high profile defense against undefeated WBA flyweight king Kosei Tanaka within the year.
Meanwhile, Nietes inexplicably did not fight a single bout since November 2018 and there are still no definite plans for his return to the ring and against whom.
In a radio interview late last year, his trainer said they were waiting for suitable offers. But that is wishful thinking.
Nietes while still a world champion was avoided by other titlists and big names as a high risk, low reward proposition. What promoter or fighter would make an offer for a fight now that he is no longer a world champion? Truth to tell, with his status now, his promoter Michael Aldeguer should be the one aggressively making the offer but that seems to be not happening.
Where do these leave Nietes? What are his options?
With the WBO conveniently ignoring his appeal for reinstatement in its ranking, Nietes has no shot at regaining his super flyweight title under the organization. He is also not rated currently by the WBA and the IBF.
Only the WBC has Nietes in its latest ranking at number five behind its champion, Juan Francisco Estrada. Rated ahead of him are former titlists Srisaket Sor Rungvusai, Roman Gonzalez, Charlie Edwards and Carlos Cuadras.
Gonzalez is set to challenge WBA champion Khalid Yafai.
Though rated highly in the creditable Transnational Boxing Ratings Board (TBRB) at number two and in the WBC, Nietes remains out of the radar of Estrada whose priorities include a highly possible rubber match against Sor Rungvusai, a rematch with former conqueror Gonzales especially if Gonzalez becomes world champion again and unification versus Yafai if he repulses Gonzalez, or possibly, Ioka.
As things stand currently, Nietes has very limited prospects and options vis a vis the champions and big names in the division.
I think his biggest priority option is to land a fight versus one of the leading contenders in WBC like Edwards or Cuadras (rated numbers 3 and 4, respectively ) or any of the other bodies like Mexican Francisco Rodriguez who is his former victim (WBO #3), Aussie Andrew Moloney or Thai Srichai Thaiyen (WBA #1 and interim titlist and #3, respectively) or Japanese Koki Eto (IBF #2 behind Israel Rodriguez who is Ancajas mandatory).
I think most doable priority prospect is a rematch with Francisco Rodriguez, a win over whom will force the WBO to get him back in its ratings.
But coming from a long layoff, Nietes should first take a tuneup fight against any available credible opponent coming from the local (like Jonas Sultan or Renz Rosia who recently upset Palicte) or the region ( no Indonesian please ).
It will be a long, arduous climb back to prominence and hopefully another world championship for Nietes who at 37 may only have a year or two at most of his remaining fighting prime.
Given that, i think a move up to the bantamweight or down to the flyweight could be considered where the big names and prominent opposition may be more willing to give him a chance to regain his reputation as a top predator consistent with his nom de guerre.
The author Teodoro Medina Reynoso is a veteran boxing radio talk show host living in the Philippines. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and by phone 09215309477.
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