Nietes vows big win for Negrenses

Olmin Leyba - The Philippine Star

BACOLOD CITY, Philippines – World Boxing Organization (WBO) junior flyweight kingpin Donnie “Ahas” Nietes feels he owes his fellow Negrenses a more explosive performance to make up for his relatively bland triumph the last time he fought here.

Nietes stakes his title against Mexican challenger Raul Garcia in tonight’s main offering of “Pinoy Pride 36: A Legend in the Making” at University of St. La Salle Coliseum, seeking to keep his streak as the Phl’s longest reigning world boxing champion at nine years running.

The pride of Murcia, Negros Occidental –  a town located 20.8kms away from Bacolod – steps into the ring in his home province for the first time since scoring a unanimous victory over Mexican Ramon Garcia – Raul’s twin brother – in a battle for the 108-lb belt in 2011.

In that fight, Nietes appeared running out of gas and on the verge of going down in the last three rounds.

“I want a more impressive win tomorrow (tonight),” Nietes said after easily passing the weigh-in at Robinsons Place Bacolod.

He recalled that in that 2011 outing, he had a hard time adjusting to the climb from minimumweight to junior fly as well as handling the overwhelming feeling of excitement to fight in front of his provincemates and pressure to deliver for them.

“Nasa mindset ko ngayon, relax lang, wag magmamadali, wag lang maghanap ng knockout, pasensya lang (I have a more relaxed mindset for this fight, try to be patient and not just rush in for a knockout punch),” he said.

“King” Arthur Villanueva of Bago City also aims to make his kababayans proud when he fights Mexican Juan Jimenez for the WBO Asia Pacific crown in the featured undercard.

Milan “El Metodico” Melindo slugs it out with another Mexican, Maximino Flores, in a 10-round junior flyweight encounter. Melindo checked in 4-3/4-lbs over the limit against Flores (110-lb) but officials said the fight will proceed.

The 34-year-old Nietes (37-1-4, 21 KO) said his opponent, former WBO and IBF minimumweight ruler Raul (36-3-1, 22 KO) is pretty much a carbon copy of his twin brother Ramon. And unlike in his fight against Ramon, Nietes said he’s more prepared against the Garcia fighting style and better conditioned this time.

“Talagang pinaghandaan namin ito, grabe ang training ko sa conditioning, strengthening; yung left hand ko dine-develop din namin (I prepared hard for this especially in terms of conditioning and strengthening; we’re also developing my left),” he said.

Raul, who also tipped the scale at an exact 108lbs, is fueled by a burning desire to get back at his brother’s tormentor.

“I want to avenge the honor of my brother and my country and take the crown back home,” he said through an interpreter.

The other undercards pit Cebuano KJ Cataraja against Thai Chatchai Or Benjamas; Jonas “Zorro” Sultan against Rommel Oliveros for the Phl superflyweight diadem; Raul Yu against Robert Ates; Kenneth Gentallan versus Lenmar Prescillas; and Gerard Suico against Reymund Rama.

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