When I saw a photo of Donnie Nietes a month or two into the first lockdown, my immediate thought was, this was a guy who’s enjoying retirement.
“Pang lightweight na,” said a colleague, who added that Nietes was busying himself with his trucking business.
At that time, Nietes was a year and a half removed from the ring, with his last fight a split decision win over Kazuto Ioka for the vacant World Boxing Organization super flyweight title in Macao on the last day of 2018. Boxing, at the start of the pandemic, was at a standstill and it seems his career was also at a standstill.
Hence, his being almost 20 pounds over his fighting weight.
Then, a few months later, the ALA Boxing gym was knocked down due to the pandemic and its fighters had to scramble looking for managers to take them under their wing.
The famed Villamor brothers--Edito and Edmund--set up their own gym soon after and a few weeks after, shared a video of the champ working out.
That reminded me of what Edito said of Donnie, that when it comes to training and discipline, his on a field of his own.
So, I wasn’t surprised that when it came to the weigh-in for his comeback fight, Donnie didn’t have any problems. I wasn’t surprised too that he won his comeback against Pablo Carrillo via unanimous decision.
Comeback fights are designed to be winnable and besides, it’s Donnie, who earned the title Mexecutioner before it even became famous when he held three title defenses in Mexico against Mexicans.
In one fight, Edito said the hosts tried to tilt the fight in their own favor. The venue was so hot and so humid but they had a fan directed at their own fighter to help him recover between rounds. Donnie didn’t have such help but showed the Mexicans why he’s the champ.
So Carillo easily became Nietes’ win no. 43, though one judge had it close 96-95, while the other two had the champ winning comfortably, 98-92 and 99-91.
It was for the World Boxing Organization super flyweight international belt but in the world of boxing, international belts don’t really count.
What’s next for Donnie? I hope he gets a shot at the reigning champs. Juan Francisco Estrada, the World Boxing Council and World Boxing Association champ who once beat Nietes’ stable mate Milan Melindo is mentioned as a potential foe and I hope the champs gets that fight.
He deserves a mega-fight.