Quijano: A spectacular performance from Nietes-A A +A
Tuesday, May 13, 2014
IS DONNIE Nietes just coming into his prime?
They say the hallmark of a great champion is how he performs during attrition.
In this modern age of multiple alphabet crowns in myriad weight divisions separated only by a few pounds, boxing champions are a dime-a-dozen.
You have 17 weight divisions, with each weight class having at least four or five champions from different organizations and you have realize how watered down these “champions” are nowadays.
Even I cannot keep track of all these titleholders, and you can pretty much presume that the everyman on the street will give you a blank stare if you ask him for instance, who the junior bantamweight champion of the IBF is.
Ergo, to separate yourself from the field you have do something special to be noticed.
And last Saturday night, in a half-empty Mall of Asia Arena, Nietes did just that.
THE FIGHT. Brought to the brink of exhaustion and defeat by Moises Fuentes in their first encounter in March of last year, Neites had to dig down deep to win the championship rounds and salvage a majority draw verdict.
That result was inconclusive and controversial. But this time around, it was as definitive as can be--a ninth round TKO in a surprisingly lopsided beat-down.
Moises came out strong and wasted no time in trying to let Nietes feel his superior strength. Taller, younger and bigger, the visiting Mexican warrior certainly had mean intentions with those punches.
But “Ahas” defended well and slipped those punches while landing stinging counter-right hands.
The pattern repeated itself in the first four rounds with Fuentes bringing the fight, but missing badly, while Nietes was bobbing and weaving beautifully and landing almost at will.
I was ecstatic at Donnie’s magnificent start but somewhat fearfully anticipating the Mexican’s much vaunted second half surge to turn the tide of the fight at anytime.
But then in the middle rounds, the shorter Nietes started double and triple-pumping jabs in Fuentes’ face almost at will and at around this time, I began to sense something spectacular was happening.
There would be no Mexican rally and there was no tide to be turned.
Donnie was running away with this fight and dominating his opponent. I realized there was no freaking way he could lose this fight.
True enough, Donnie stepped in up in Round 8, unloading furious combinations on a rapidly fading Fuentes
In the ninth round, he knocked Fuentes down thrice and the denouement of the fight
came mercifully for Fuentes at the 2:54 mark.
FACTORS. Afterwards at a hastily-assembled post-fight press con ringside (a first), a jubilant Nietes revealed that his improved conditioning was a huge factor in that victory.
True, for the old Nietes had a suspect stamina and a bad habit of fading in the second half of the fight.
But the Nietes we saw that night fought like he could go 15 rounds and his speed and power were simply too much for the rugged and hale Mexican who was expected to be the stronger, more durable fighter.
His coaches also introduced a nifty defensive adjustment--Nietes bobbed and dipped low everytime Fuentes attacked. Already shorter by a couple of inches, ducking low made Fuentes miss badly and when the latter threw body shots, they would land instead on Nietes’ shoulders and arms.
It was a great defensive tactic and adjustment made by his team that nullified Fuentes’ body attack which was successful in their first encounter.
In stark contrast, Fuentes had no back-up plan and resorted time and again to an offensive strategy that was already defanged by the excellent display of boxing prowess from Nietes.
LAST ROUNDS. Are on the Mamba family--Mayor Francisco of Tuao, Cagayan, his lovely wife Corinne, and kids Franco, Francine and Eena. Cheers and welcome to Cebu!
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 14, 2014.