MY only goal then was to keep the title. I never expected to be a champion this long.
That’s what reigning IBF flyweight champion Donnie Nietes said during an informal gathering with local media for his 10th anniversary as a champion. It was held last Saturday, which was 10 years to the day (minus an hour or two) since he beat Pornsawan Porpramook for the WBO minimumweight belt at the Waterfront Hotel and Casino, a few hundred meters away from the venue.
From being the 105-pound king, Nietes would win the light flyweigh (108) and the flyweight (112) titles and at 35, he is hoping to win a fourth division, the super flyweight (115 pounds).
His original target, the former pound-for-pound king Roman Gonzalez, is no longer on his radar after he was dethroned by Srisaket Sor Rungvisai of Thailand.
Aside from a fourth division crown, Nietes also has a lofty dream, to become the unified champion in the flyweight division, and to do that, he has to go through Japanese champions Kazuto Ioka (WBA), Daigo Higa (WBC) and Sho Kimura (WBO).
But in boxing, to be a unified champion, the other belt holders must be willing to put their belt on the line in a unification bout and if Japan can have three champions in a weight division, do you think they’d risk losing one by letting him face off with a fellow champ?
Donnie thinks he only has three more years, at most, at this level and I hope fate will smile on the former utility boy of ALA and he gets his wish. What a way to end a career by becoming the unified title holder, or even better, a crown in a fourth division.
I asked him if he’d prefer to fight in Cebu or in Bacolod but he said he’d rather fight here rather than in hometown.
“Grabe pressure didto,” he said.
That’s understandable. Daily interactions with his kababayans might put unnecessary pressure on him, But considering his last outing in Bacolod, a fifth round demolition of Raul Garcia last May 28, 2016, the champ has showed that he can handle pressure.
But before he starts thinking of his legacy, there’s that title defense against Juan Carlos Reveco, an Argentinian with a 39=3 record with 19KOs. The guy also defeated Komgrich Nantapech last Sept. 8, the same Thai fighter whom Nietes beat to win the IBF flyweight crown.
Nietes said one of the venues being considered is Argentina but I hope the powers that be will give Donnie another title defense at home.
Published in the SunStar Cebu newspaper on October 04, 2017.