Donnie Nietes’ long awaited ring return couldn’t have come at a more opportune time. Just two weeks ago, potential rivals Juan Francisco Estrada and Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez duked it out, with Estrada eking out a somewhat controversial decision win.
As things stand now, the 115 lb. division is at its deepest in years, and Nietes needs to be in the mix of things in order to be considered relevant; otherwise, it’s a serious waste of Pinoy talent.
Boxing is a superstar-driven sport where the fans come trickling in every time a marquee fighter has a date booked. The impact doubles when he faces off against a fellow name fighter and this exponentially drives the market up.
Arguably, the pandemic has really affected boxing much more than other sports specifically because this is a contact sport between two individuals. Obviously when one fighter tests positive, the fight is called off, unlike team sports where the absence of one player—even if he is the team’s resident superstar—doesn’t entail the cancellation of the game.
Ergo, making big fights happen is of itself an achievement and in Donnie’s case the out-of-sight, out-of-mind adage dangerously takes centerstage in so far as fight fans are concerned.
Nietes needs to fight and often, and the clock is ticking for him uncomfortably fast at an advanced fighting age of 38 years.
NIETES. Donnie (43-1, 23 KOs) faced off against Pablo Carrillo (25-8, 16KOs) over the weekend for the vacant WBO international super-flyweight title and scored a unanimous decision victory.
It’s been two years since he last fought, but he looked impressive and appeared like he never left. Of course, Carrillo is not exactly a top-tier fighter, but he was aggressive and took the fight to Nietes.
“Ahas” needed this kind of a challenge to polish his ring chops as a reticent, unwilling opponent would have been an unfavorable match-up.
The impressive footwork was still there, along with the uncanny hand-speed and blistering combinations. He was also still elusive and crafty on defense—a unique hybrid fighting style developed over the years.
Nietes desperately needs a defining fight to cap off an already illustrious career.
Looking at his resume, you can see a couple of big names but his most impressive victory has to be the demolition of Moises Fuentes in their rematch back in 2014. Unfortunately, Fuentes’ career trajectory has taken a nose-dive, going 1-4 in his last two fights, the latest being a stoppage loss to “Chocolatito” back in 2018.
If Nietes is to be remembered for being one of the all-time greats in the lower weight classes, he has to do more than being known as the longest reigning Pinoy boxing champion. He needs to fight AND win convincingly against one of his more illustrious peers at this division.
VERBATIM. “I understand he’s gotten a lot better from when I sparred him, but those tendencies are still the same.”—Tim Bradley on Terence Crawford facing off against Manny Pacquiao (www.boxinginsider.com)
LAST ROUND. It’s on Lilibeth Cabas of the MTCC Branch 2 Talisay City, who recently celebrated her birthday. Cheers!