BOXING is a young man’s sport. Most boxers tend to slow down in their mid-30s and hang up their gloves before they reach 40. Only a few special ones continue to fight at a world-class level at an advanced age.
Four-division world champion Donnie Nietes is in that elite group, as he continues to show world-class talent even at the age of 38.
“He still has his skills, speed, power and quickness. We just need to perfect it because he had a long layoff. We need to consistently train so that we can perfect his timing,” Nietes’ longtime trainer and friend Edmund Villamor told SunStar Cebu.
Nietes is deep in training at the Villamor Brothers Boxing Gym for his much anticipated ring return from a two-year hiatus. He’ll be fighting a yet-to-be-named opponent on April 3, 2021 in Dubai alongside fellow former ALA Boy Albert Pagara in the “Dubai Fight Series.”
At 36 years old, Nietes won his fourth division crown after beating Kazuto Ioka in a World Boxing Organization (WBO) super flyweight contest in Macau in 2018. After relinquishing his belt, Nietes has not fought since.
Nietes and Pagara were inked by MTK Global and D4G Promotions last year after ALA Promotions ceased its operations.
As early as October, Nietes reunited with Villamor and went back to the gym to whip himself back up into fighting form.
“At the start of training, he was so heavy, especially because of the pandemic. Now, he’s just about 13 pounds over his fighting weight,” said Villamor.
Nietes, who’ll turn 39 in May, is surrounded by young talent at the Villamor Brothers Boxing Gym. He has been sparring with amateur fighters Reymart Tagacanao and Christian Balunan, one-time world title challenger Jeo Santisima and world-rated KJ Cataraja.
“What I saw in his sparring with Jeo is that he can handle a heavier fighter and with Kevin is that he can hang with a quicker and younger boxer. I thank Jeo, Kevin and their coach (Michael Domingo) for helping Donnie get back in fighting form for his upcoming fight,” said Villamor.
Nietes feels he’s ready for a 10-round fight. However, he still needs to improve on his stamina.
“I think I still need to improve my stamina. Aside from that, coach said that I still have the same movement,” said Nietes.
Nietes is going into his 18th year as a pro. Aside from his talent, it’s his dedication to his craft that has kept him in the sport for this long.
“I’m always impressed with Donnie’s work ethic,” said Villamor. “If there’s an upcoming fight, he would train really hard. He would do everything I ask from him in training and never complain. He has always been like this since he started as a pro up until now. He still has the same attitude since day one.”