WORLD Boxing Organization minimumweight champion Donnie “Ahas” Nietes is in for a tough battle when he risks his crown against Mexican challenger Jesus Silvestre today (January 23) at the Cuneta Astrodome.

A native of Murcia, Negros Occidental, the 30-year-old boxer said over a radio report that he is confident to bag the title for the fourth time in front of his countrymen.

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“I’m ready to fight and I’m sure I’ll keep the title,” said Nietes, who holds an impressive 25-1-3 record, 14 of them via stoppage.

Boxing time is set at 8 a.m. at the famed astrodome.

Silvestre meanwhile boasts of a 15-1 record with 12 KO's but Nietes remains unfazed, confident he will win by stoppage inside seven rounds.

“He (Silvestre) won’t last until the seventh round,” Nietes said.

A native of Nayarit, Mexico, Silvestre replaces compatriot Sammy “Guty” Gutierrez in the boxing promotion presented by Solar Sports.

Nietes will be defending his title for the fourth time since taking it from Thai Karating Daneggyn in 2007.

For his preparation, he said he has sparred close to 150 rounds for the fight, which was supposed to be held last December 5 but was reset by the promoters.

The Nietes-Silvestre 12-round tiff serves as the undercard of the "Hawaiian Punch" Brian Viloria-Carlos Tamara International Boxing Federation junior-flyweight main event dubbed “Boxing at the Bay” of Solar Entertainment.

Tamara, 20-4 (14 KO), started his career when he represented his native Colombia in the 2004 Olympic games in Athens, making it to the second round before dropping a decision to an Italian counterpart. He won a silver medal in the Santo Domingo Pan American games in 2003, losing to Cuban Olympic gold medalist Yan Barthelemy in the finals.

Viloria, the reigning International Boxing Federation light flyweight champion, will be making his third defense of the title he won via an 11th round knockout of heavily favored Ulises Solis at the Araneta Coliseum last April 19, 2009.

The 29-year-old retained the 108-pound crown four months later via a 12-round unanimous decision over a tough Jesus Iribe of Mexico in Hawaii.

Moving to the next class?

After this bout, Nietes hopes to defend the crown four to five times more then move to the flyweight or even bantamweight class since he is no longer comfortable fighting in the 105-pound division.

Nietes successfully defended the title for the first time against Ede Castro of Panama whom he forced into submission in only two rounds. Two unanimous decision victories over Eric Ramirez and Manuel Vargas, both of Mexico, marked his reign as the world’s 105-pound kingpin.

Organizers said the Boxing at the Bay is the biggest boxing program in Southeast Asia today in the tradition of boxing shows like Top Rank Promotions’ Latin Fury and Pinoy Power.

The fights will also be fed live via satellite to major parts of Asia, North and South America and a few countries in Europe.

Ticketnet prices for the event is pegged at P1,585 for VIP and special ringside, P845 for ringside, P317 for lower box, and P53 for general admission. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)