‘Kamikaze’ Mexicans in do-or-die bouts

Joaquin M. Henson - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - A pair of Mexican invaders will face WBO lightflyweight champion Donnie Nietes and unbeaten IBF Intercontinental superbantamweight titlist Prince Albert Pagara with all indications pointing to a do-or-die approach in going for a quick knockout in ALA Promotions’ Pinoy Pride 30 card at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on March 28.

Gilberto Parra takes on Nietes in the Filipino’s sixth defense of the crown he wrested from Ramon Garcia Hirales in Bacolod in 2011. Parra boasts a 19-2 record with 17 KOs, including 13 in the first three rounds. It’s his debut fight outside of Mexico and he’s not taking the risk of trying to win on points. Parra is out for a stoppage – the earlier, the better. His record indicates an 89 percent KO rate, making him a dangerous opponent.

Rodolfo Hernandez, 28, battles Pagara and fights the same way as Parra. He’s a kamikaze-type warrior who either wins or loses by KO. Hernandez has a 26-5-1 record, with 24 KOs including 13 in the first round. His KO rate is slightly higher than Parra’s at 92 percent. Hernandez has never fought beyond Mexican borders. Four of his five setbacks were inside the distance, two in the second round.

Parra is the WBO’s No. 13 contender. Nietes was originally set to meet No. 12 Luis Ceja and when that fight was scratched, No. 1 Francisco Rodriguez Jr. was named as replacement. Rodriguez later pulled out, paving the way for Parra to assume the challenger’s role. If Nietes repulses Parra, he’ll stake his crown next against Rodriguez on July 4.

ALA Promotions president Michael Aldeguer said Nietes couldn’t care less who his opponent is as the only thing that matters is he wins. “Donnie’s very motivated as this will be his first fight after he broke Flash Elorde’s record last January,” said Aldeguer referring to Nietes surpassing Elorde’s uninterrupted rule of seven years and three months as Filipino world champion. (Nietes has now reigned for seven years and six months, first as WBO minimumweight champion and now as WBO lightflyweight titleholder). “The change of opponent didn’t bother him because everything wasn’t final until we launched the event. Parra was on the list so he was able to prepare for Ceja, Parra or Rodriguez. Nietes knows that he’ll fight the mandatory challenger, who is Rodriguez, regardless. We made an agreement with Zanfer Promotions that the winner will fight Rodriguez in July.”

Aldeguer said Nietes realizes that Parra is a knockout artist and can’t look beyond him. “Donnie’s aware that Parra has power and based on the videos, like a typical Mexican, he likes to come in and has a lot of heart,” said Aldeguer. “Donnie knows what to do. He’s very excited to perform well.”

Aldeguer said Nietes is in no hurry to move up to the flyweight division although he relishes the idea of eventually fighting the big names like undefeated WBC champion Roman (Chocolatito) Gonzalez of Nicaragua and WBA/WBO ruler Juan Francisco Estrada who has beaten Filipinos Brian Viloria, Richie Mepranum, Milan Melindo and Ardin Diale.

“We had initial plans of Donnie moving up but right now, he’s still very comfortable at 108,” said Aldeguer. “We can’t rush him to move up as everything has to be planned out ahead. But definitely, Donnie has been wanting to fight Estrada and Gonzalez. We’ll fight them at the right time.”

Nietes, 32, has a 34-1-4 record, with 20 KOs. His only loss was by split decision to Indonesia’s Angky Angkota in Jakarta in 2004. He has since been unbeaten in 26 outings with three draws in that list. Jack Reiss of Oxnard, California, will be the referee of the fight with Takeo Harada of Japan, Bill Lerch of Chicago and Max DeLuca of Tustin, California, the judges.

Parra and Hernandez are still not in town. They’ll fly in at least a week before the fight. Aldeguer said Hernandez could turn out to be Pagara’s biggest test ever. Pagara, 21, has a 22-0 record, with 15 KOs, and is coming off a win by decision over Mexico’s Raul Hirales in Cebu last November. Hernandez hasn’t fought since a first round demolition of Mario Briones in Sinaloa in May last year.

“Pagara knows that Hernandez could be his toughest opponent and will help him spring-board his career if he wins,” said Aldeguer. “Hernandez can’t be taken lightly as he has 24 KOs in 26 wins.  This fight should answer some questions. In two years, we feel Pagara needs to fight and train in the US.”

Another big fight in the card is a 12-rounder between former IBF/IBO flyweight, WBC/WBO bantamweight, WBA/WBO superbantamweight and WBA featherweight champion Nonito Donaire Jr. and Brazil’s William Prado for the North American Boxing Federation 122-pound crown.


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