Hard Climb Back for Nietes
By Teodoro Medina Reynoso
Tue, 22 Sep 2020
Regardless of who will be his new promoter, Donnie Ahas Netes faces the prospect of a hard climb back to his once lofty position as among the best fighters pound for pound in the world.
By November, Nietes will be two full year away from active competition and it is held unlikely that he would be back in the ring anytime soon assuming he finally decides whom to latch up following his release from the now defunct ALA Promotion.
Due to the Covid-19 situation, boxing is still to resume in the Philippines while it is very difficult to get a fight abroad due to travel restrictions or outright ban.
Two big promotional firms are reportedly interested in signing up Nietes, one based in Japan which also handles Kazuto Ioka and another based in the USA connected with former world champion Roy Jones, Jr.
It could be recalled that it was against Kazuto Ioka that Nietes won his fourth and most recent world championship, the WBO super flyweight belt in December 2018 via split decision in the neutral arena of Macau.
Nietes in action against Ioka during their WBO superfly title fight at the Wynn Hotel in Macau on Dec. 31, 2018.
But Nietes decided to vacate the same title rather than meet again countryman Aston Palicte in its defense. Nietes and Palicte had earlier fought to a draw in their fight for the same WBO title vacated by Naoya Inoue in his own move up to the bantamweight.
As it turned out, Ioka and Palicte were ordered to fight for the WBO crown left by Nietes with Ioka winning it via late round stoppage in Japan.
Nietes tried but failed to lure any of the other champions chiefly Srisaket Sor Rungvusai and Juan Francisco Estrada or just even the marquee names as Roman Gonzalez and Khalid Yafai to big money fights. He with the acquiescence of ALA decided to just sit out 2019.
In December 2019 though, Nietes made a personal appearance during the WBO Convention held in Tokyo and appealed that he be reinstated in the WBO ranking for a chance to challenge the winner of the then title defense of Ioka versus Puerto Rican Jayvier Cintron.
Ioka successfully defended his title by decision over Cintron. But the WBO in its succeeding ratings did not include Nietes though Nietes continued to be rated by the other world boxing bodies including the IBF which has Filipino Jerwin Ancajas as its titleholder.
Then the Covid pandemic occurred and boxing in general came to a halt worldwide.
When boxing started to resume in June, Nietes was no longer rated by any world boxing body due to his long inactivity. Meanwhile, Ioka has been mandated to face fellow Japanese Kosei Tanaka, the former undefeated WBO flyweight champion, in his next title defense
Given that, it is therefore very important for Nietes to latch up with a promoter who could facilitate a fight and fights that would make his comeback and climb back the shortest and soonest as possible given his already advancing age.
Tekken Promotion, one of the biggest and most active in Japan handles Kazuto Ioka hence signing up with this group will put Nietes in the position to vie again for the WBO super flyweight crown especially if Ioka loses to Tanaka.
If Ioka wins, the only problem would be the standing ban in Japan on fights between stablemates as Ioka and Nietes would be if Nietes signs up with Tekken. But this could be remedied by holding their fight outside of Japan with the US as possible site as both are also known to fans there.
What is immediately important is for Tekken to secure Nietes a comeback fight against preferably a WBO rated opponent to get him back in the WBO ranking.
Rated next to Tanaka in the latest WBO ranking in the division are three Mexican former world titlists namely Francisco Rodriguez, Jr., Carlos Cuadras and Pedro Guevara and a Chinese Yangga Siquibo who is nestled at #4.
Tekken could arrange a Nietes fight against any of those four WBO rated fighters whoever is available preferably in the undercard of the Ioka-Tanaka main event title bout which is being eyed for November or December which organizers are hoping to be held before live paying spectators.
The prospect of Nietes coming back and climbing back by getting into the groove of things in the division is therefore clearer and faster though not necessarily easier if he signs up with Tekken.
Latching up with Tekken may also facilitate his entry to Japan which has been enforcing a strict travel protocols against foreign visitors on account of the Covid-19 pandemic.
This travel restriction has prevented Giemel Magramo from entering Japan since July to fulfill his commitment to fight Junto Nakatani for the WBO flyweight title vacated by Kosei Tanaka as mandated by the WBO.
As time goes by, Magramo may even lose the chance as another all Japanese fight looms for the said crown with Ryuya Yamaguchi recently winning the WBO Asia Pacific title and entering the latest WBO ranking.
Nietes may also consider what the US group has to offer which could in the longer term finally provide him what he has been aiming for, i.e. high profile, big money fight versus the division's big names as Estrada, Sor Rungvusai and or Gonzalez.
But given his advancing age, long inactivity that costed him his world ranking and the urgent need for a significant comeback fight, Nietes may be better off with Tekken.
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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