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Nietes remains serious fixture in 115-pound ranks


PhilBoxing.com





Donnie Nietes came through with a clinical performance in outclassing Colombian Pablo Carrillo to score a unanimous 10-round decision for the vacant WBO International superflyweight title at the Caesar’s Palace Bluewaters in Dubai last Saturday (early Sunday morning, Manila time). He hadn’t fought in over two years and some skeptics speculated that at 38, Nietes wouldn’t be as slick as he was in capturing world titles in four weight divisions over a period of 12 years from 2007 to 2019.

But Nietes left no doubt that he remains a serious fixture in the race for total supremacy in the 115-pound class. Judge Guilio Piras of Italy gave Carrillo only one round and judge Zoltan Enyedi of Hungary, two in their scorecards. Judge Ferenc Budai of Hungary should go to the nearest ophthalmologist for an eye checkup because his 96-95 tally was clearly out of whack. I watched the fight on TV and did my own scoring. I thought I was a bit generous in awarding the third and sixth rounds to Carrillo. The fight wasn’t close.

Carrillo tried to bully Nietes into a corner and push him against the ropes but the Filipino master craftsman was too smart to be baited. Nietes kept the action in the middle of the ring where he controlled the tempo with shifty footwork, a rapier-like left jab and dizzying 1-2-3 combinations. Carrillo repeatedly attempted to power his way inside Nietes’ stonewall defense but couldn’t penetrate.

Nietes, who arrived in Cebu from Dubai today, said Carrillo showed nothing new from his previous fights. “Ganoon pa rin ang style niya,” he noted. “May lakas din at matibay. Hindi basta-basta tutumba. Ready na ako kahit sino sa superflyweight, huwag lang yung Pinoy.” Nietes fought countryman Aston Palicte in an all-Filipino encounter for the vacant WBO superflyweight title in Los Angeles in September 2018 and they battled to a split draw. Nietes then beat Japan’s Kazuto Ioka for the vacant throne in Macau late that year but relinquished the crown when ordered to face Palicte in a rematch. Not because he was afraid but because he didn’t want to fight another Filipino again. Ioka went on to stop Palicte for the belt that Nietes gave up and has since turned back two challengers. Now, there’s talk that Ioka will stake his title against Nietes in a rematch. Ioka has fought only twice outside of Japan so it’s not likely he’ll risk facing Nietes on foreign soil once more.

Aside from Ioka, the other world superflyweight champions are WBA “super” titleholder Juan Francisco Estrada and “regular” ruler Joshua Franco and the IBF’s Jerwin Ancajas. The WBC throne is vacant. Thailand’s Srisaket Sor Rungvisai is rated No. 1 by the WBC and WBO while Nicaragua’s Chocolatito Gonzalez is the WBA’s top contender.

Nietes’ secret is discipline but it's really no secret. He keeps in shape even when there’s no fight on the table. In getting ready for a bout, he takes no short-cuts and works his butt off. At the weigh-in the day before battling Carrillo, Nietes scaled 114 3/4 like it was calibrated to go 1/4 under the 115-pound limit. “Since nag-open ang Villamor Brothers Boxing Gym last November, Donnie never skipped training,” said coach Edito Villamor. “Kaya walang ring rust sa laban niya against Carrillo. I think he’s ready to fight Estrada, Chocolatito or Rungvisai.” Villamor rated Nietes’ performance an eight from a scale of one to 10 to leave a little room to improve for bigger game ahead.

Nietes hurt Carrillo with a body shot in the last round and the Colombian tried to shrug it off by showboating. “Usually ‘yan ang gagawin ng mga boxer pagnasasaktan at behind na sa points,” said Villamor whose brother Edmund accompanied Nietes in Dubai. “I’m not ready to fly pa, 50 years old na kasi. Pag may vaccine na go na tayo. May mga tao naman ang D4G Promotions at busy rin ako sa gym.”

The Villamor brothers inherited a ring and equipment from the ALA Gym that closed last August and opened their own training facility in Mandaue. They want to preserve the Aldeguer legacy and develop new talent from the grassroots. “Almost 60 amateurs from six years old to 17 are training with us,” said Villamor. “Three pros are also training in our gym, Donnie, Reymart Tagacanao and Christian Balunan.”


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


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