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Nietes to face Fuentes in Mexico

Donnie ‘Ahas’ Nietes

MANILA, Philippines - WBO lightflyweight champion Donnie (Ahas) Nietes of Murcia, Negros Occidental, will battle mandatory challenger Moises Fuentes in Mexico late this year, his manager Michael Aldeguer confirmed recently, but is set to make a voluntary defense earlier against an opponent still to be named.

Aldeguer said he has come to terms with Zanfer, the Mexican outfit that promotes Fuentes, to stage the rematch in Mexico in November or December. Last March, Nietes and Fuentes fought to a majority 12-round draw at the Waterfront Hotel Pacific Ballroom in Lahug. The outcome was disputed by both camps. Nietes’ manager Marco Antonio Barrera said in his view, Fuentes won by a margin of four rounds. But ALA Boxing chairman Tony Aldeguer disagreed, asserting that Nietes threw the clearer and harder punches in a close fight.

When Fuentes met Nietes, he still held the WBO minimumweight championship. The Mexican has since relinquished the throne and is now the No. 1 contender in the 108-pound division. Filipino Merlito Sabillo, who also belongs to the ALA stable, has succeeded Fuentes as WBO 105-pound titleholder.

For a while, it appeared that Nietes would not agree to a rematch particularly as Fuentes demanded as a condition that no Filipino judge would be assigned by WBO president Paco Valcarcel. In the first encounter, Filipino judge Danrex Tapdasan scored it 115-113 for Nietes while San Diego’s Pat Russell and Las Vegas’ Adalaide Byrd saw it 114-all. Aldeguer said Fuentes had no business making the demand particularly as he never complained when a Mexican judge was on the panel in two of Nietes’ three title defenses as WBO minimumweight champion in Mexico.

It is not known if Valcarcel will assign a Filipino or a Mexican for the return engagement in Mexico. What is certain is the rematch will be in Fuentes’ home country. Aldeguer said since Fuentes is the No. 1 contender, he is entitled to challenge Nietes once more.

“Donnie sustained two big cuts above both eyes last March and he’s still not allowed to do any sparring,” said Michael Aldeguer. “But his next fight will be on Aug. 24 in Cebu. It will be a voluntary defense before the rematch with Fuentes.” Aldeguer said no opponent has been identified for the voluntary defense at the moment but he will be in the top 10 ratings.

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Two of the top 10 contenders are Filipinos, No. 5 Joebert Alvarez and No. 8 Randy Petalcorin so they’re not in the list of Aldeguer’s candidates. Aside from Fuentes, there are two Mexicans in the top 10, No. 3 Javier Mendoza and No. 10 Odion Zaleta. Aldeguer will likely not tap a Mexican for the optional defense. That leaves No. 2 Kompayak Porporamook of Thailand, No. 4 Noknoi Sitthiprasert of Thailand, No. 5 Shin Ono of Japan, No. 7 Luis Alberto Rios of Panama and No. 9 Felix Alvarado of Nicaragua.

Kompayak, the former WBC lightflyweight champion, is now the interim WBA flyweight titlist so he’s moved up in weight. Rios was outpointed by IBF lightflyweight champion Johnriel Casimero last March so he wouldn’t be an attraction for Filipino fans. By process of elimination, the remaining candidates are Noknoi, Ono and Alvarado.

Noknoi, 26, has a 42-4 record, with 24 KOs. He has won his last 41 outings after losing four of his first five bouts since turning pro in 2003. The Thai lost a decision to Filipino Dondon Jimenea but has beaten all his other Filipino opponents, namely Edison Berwela (W6), Rey Loreto (W6), Donny Mabao (W10 twice), Dindo Nacionales (KO4), Joel Rafols (KO8), Carlo Besares (KO2), Jason Geda (KO3) and Tommy Terrado (W10).

Ono, 30, has never faced a Filipino. He could be seriously considered as Japan recently recognized the WBO. Ono’s record is 15-5-2, with 2 KOs. His last win by stoppage came in 2004 over Keijiro Mizuno and he has since figured in 14 bouts, losing thrice, two by knockout.

Alvarado, 24, is a dangerous customer with a 16-0 record, including 13 KOs. He’s coming off a first round knockout win over Carlos Melo last April. Melo went the distance in losing a 12-round decision to Filipino Milan Melindo in 2008. Six of Alvarado’s 13 wins by knockout came in the first round, indicating brutal punching power.

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