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RECOGNITION LONG OVERDUE


PhilBoxing.com




Donnie Nietes. Have you heard of him? Or his nickname ?Ahas?? If you haven?t heard of him until now, then I guess he isn?t that popular just yet. But if you?ve heard of him even before, then thanks for being a real sports fan of Pinoy sports!

This is all about World Boxing Organization (WBO) minimumweight world champion Donnie ?Ahas? Nietes who defended his championship for the third time in hostile territory in Mexico last Sunday and who returned to Cebu on Friday. For a change, Nietes now has a multitude of fans in Mexico where he has gone undefeated in three fights, a feat that no other Pinoy has matched in boxing history (hope I?m not corrected on this trivial stat). Upon arriving in Manila last Wednesday, the unfamiliar sight of people recognizing and greeting him was a new thing, something they never felt before. In fact, ALA Promotions President Michael Aldeguer once said jokingly (or seriously?) that Donnie probably had more fans in Mexico than in the Philippines.

After three years (and counting) as a world champion, we?re so glad that Donnie has finally gotten the recognition that he rightfully deserves. Very few people realize that Nietes won his belt in 2007 and has held on to it while other Pinoys have either lost their world titles or lost in a world title fight. Today, Nietes and Manny Pacquiao are the only reigning and legitimate world champions. No asterisks across their titles or an interim tag. World Champion. No more, no less.

Isn?t it strange how Nietes has always been labeled as a second tier boxer to the likes of ALA mainstays Boom Boom Bautista, AJ ?Bazooka? Banal and the now retired Z Gorres even if he was the only world champion in the ALA Gym? Bautista, Banal and Gorres even had ABS-CBN on their side and they weren?t even world champs. They were the usual main event boxers of ABS-CBN produced fight cards and guess who was a regular boxer tasked to play the ?supporting? main event role to these three? The quiet and unassuming ex-janitor of the ALA Gym called Donnie. The adjectives ?unassuming? and ?quiet? aren?t usually associated with people from Bacolod, but that?s Donnie for you. That?s why he?s such a class act.

So where and how did it all start? I can still remember how Nietes started to fight out of the ALA Gym, but not wearing the colors of the fabled ALA uniform. Instead of ALA black, Nietes used maroon trunks and was introduced as a boxer fighting out of the AEV or Dan Nietes stable (his uncle). So here we have a world champ who didn?t even become a true-blue (actually black) ALA boxer until midway into his career. Was this a premonition of more supporting roles for him in the ALA Gym?

Fast forward to November 11, 2006. Nietes pummeled Henri Amol of Indonesia in two rounds to win the WBO Asia Pacific minimumweight championship. This was the first of a series of big wins against two Thailanders that set him up for the big one on September 30, 2007 when he defeated yet another Thai in Pornsawan Porpramoook here in Cebu by unanimous decision. This was the first world title for the ALA Gym, for an active ALA boxer that is, and it didn?t come from the top list of boxers who boxing fans were following closely (Boom Boom, Banal or Gorres). Eddy Castro came to Cebu to challenge Nietes but was out in two rounds. Then came the invite to battle Mexican Erik Ramirez in Mexico. At this stage, Nietes was still an unknown and underrated entity who didn?t draw the interest of either of the big TV networks ABS CBN or GMA 7. Moreover, the offer was too good to refuse as it also meant good money for Nietes and an opportunity to prove that he was for real. Prove it he did, knocking Ramirez down four times enroute to a lopsided unanimous decision win. I still declare it lopsided even if one judge saw Nietes winning by only two points! Seven months later and it was back to Mexico to battle interim world champion Manuel Vargas. Nietes won by split decision this time, winning 118-110 and 116-110 on the scorecards of two judges, but losing 112-116 in the scorecard of a certain Jose Robert Torres, someone who probably watched the fight while glued to audio commentary of the obviously biased TV crew from Mexico.

Proving that Mexico was now a comfort zone, it was off to oven-hot Guasave, Sinaloa, Mexico last Sunday where Nietes overcame the tough Mario Rodriguez and terrible heat to eke out what should be his sweetest win in Mexico so far. Nietes controlled the fight from the get go, ran out of steam towards the end, but counted on his excellent conditioning and heart of a champion to hold on to his belt comfortably, winning with scores of 119-109, 118-110 and 116-112. No weird scores this time. Working with the ALA Gym for the first time, GMA 7 aired the fight via a same-day delayed telecast and came out with no regrets after covering the two previous losses of Pinoy boxers Ana Julaton who has since bounced back, and Johnreil Casimero. Thanks to TV, Nietes is now recognized wherever he goes as a world champion, something that has been missing for quite some time despite that fact that he?s been a champ since 2007.

I guess better late than never! As I proudly say, here we go?introducing the WBO minimumweight champion of the world, Donnie ?Ahas? Nietes!

oOo

Time-out: Congratulations to Mark and Lourdes Calo on your wedding! May the Shell of love fill you with a full warehouse of stocks of happiness. >>> You can reach me at bleachertalk@yahoo.com.


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Rico Navarro.


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