Four-division world champion Donnie Nietes faces a young and hungry prospect, Orlando Penalba, in his ring return from a two-year layoff.

The 38-year-old Nietes is slated in a 10-round bout against Penalba in one of the featured fights of MTK Global and D4G Promotions’ boxing show on April 3, 2021 at the Caesar’s Palace Dubai in Dubai, UAE.

“Yes, that’s my opponent,” Nietes told SunStar Cebu. “It will be 10 rounds. I think I can beat him.”

Penalba is a 27-year-old unbeaten prospect from Panama. He’s the World Boxing Organization (WBO) Latino super flyweight champion. He’s currently rated No. 13 by the WBO and No. 15 by the World Boxing Association (WBA).

Penalba last fought on Feb. 8, 2020, when he beat previously undefeated Kiever Fernandez by split decision in Panama City.

“He’s not a slugger. He’s just a normal boxer,” said Nietes of his oppoenent’s style.

No rust

Nietes has not set foot inside a ring since winning his fourth world title last Dec. 31, 2018. He defeated Japanese star Kazuto Ioka by split decision in Macau.

Despite the long hiatus, Nietes says that he doesn’t feel any ring rust at all.

“I’m ready. I don’t feel stiff. My movement is relaxed,” he said.

Nietes has been sparring with fellow former ALA Boys KJ Cataraja and Jeo Santisima at the Villamor Brothers Boxing Gym. He’s also sparring with amateur fighters Reymart Tagacanao and Christian Balunan.

“Coach Edmund (Villamor) said that I’m moving great. I’m also doing conditioning with coach Edito (Villamor). I’m ready to fight for 10 rounds,” said Nietes.

Nietes is 42-1-5 with 23 knockouts, while Penalba is 10-0 with two knockouts.

Nietes hopes to break into the world rankings and fight the likes of Roman Gonzalez, Juan Francisco Estrada and Srisaket Sor Rungvisai.

Also seeing action in the same Dubai show as Nietes is former ALA Boy Albert Pagara. (EKA)