Magsayo, Nietes taste freedom

THE GAME OF MY LIFE - Bill Velasco (The Philippine Star) - October 5, 2020 - 12:00am

One is a young, undefeated powerhouse featherweight, technically superior to all opponents he has faced so far. This tattooed dynamo will overpower you into submission with a devastating combination of will and power. The other is a revered four-division champion who has not lost in over a decade. Tactically superlative, this king of the ring will wear you down and slice you apart like a scalpel. You won’t feel it until it’s too late. Both fighters have had their careers stalled by bad advice and poor planning from their previous managers. And both Mark “Magnifico” Magsayo and Donnie “Ahas” Nietes are now happily breathing the sweet air of freedom, returning to boxing and thankful fans.

Yesterday, a hungry Magsayo escaped the aggressive southpaw Rigoberto Hermosillo (11-2-1 with eight KOs) in a good comeback after years of fits and starts. The taller Mexican was a replacement for the WBC Asia champion’s original opponent Pepito Haro. Magsayo logged his 21st win via split decision. Hermosillo threw more punches, but Magsayo landed a higher percentage and with better quality. Primarily headhunting, Magsayo threw few combinations and strangely allowed his opponent to constantly back him up. An obvious ninth-round knockdown by Magsayo was ruled a slip. Both fighters had come off long lay-offs.

Prior to the fight, the former ice cream vendor from Bohol told The STAR that he was pleased to be able to concentrate just on boxing, dedicating the fight to his countrymen.

The happy news for Donnie Nietes (42-1-5 with 23 knockouts), meanwhile, is that, after nearly two years of inactivity, he has signed with MTK Global, a boxing management company which has a presence in more than 18 major markets worldwide, and D4G Promotions.

“I’m happy we have a new two-year contract,” the 38-year-old native of Murcia, Negros Occidental told The STAR “I hope to fight again in December or early next year.”

In mid-2018, Nietes was given a questionable draw against taller compatriot Aston Palicte. On the last day of that year, he then carved out a split-decision win over Kazuto Ioka for the WBO junior bantamweight title, his fourth division world title. That historic feat placed him in rarefied company. But when Ahas was ordered by the WBO to face Palicte again, he was advised to vacate the title and move up in weight. Not having a belt to dangle in front of opponents made him too dangerous an opponent, and no serious fighters wanted to gamble against such a formidable foe with nothing at stake. Nietes even flew overseas to goad reigning champions into fighting him, to no avail.

After not being given any fights for a year, Mark Magsayo opted not to renew his contract with ALA Promotions for 2019. He then partnered with another promoter and independently staged an event in Bohol in August of last year. Magsayo easily outpointed stubborn former two-time world champion Panya Uthok (53-6-0). Seeking a more stable support system, he entered into prolonged talks with a potential new investor/promoter in September, but nothing came of it. That set Magsayo back again, and he questioned his own future as a boxer. Finally, Magnifico signed with MP Promotions. And three months ago, he flew to Los Angeles to train under Freddie Roach, Justin Fortune and Marvin Somodio.

Donnie Nietes is not one to complain, and has handled his troubles with quiet dignity and class. He now has an opportunity to put the finishing touches on a glorious, enviable career with aplomb. The surefire Hall of Fame fighter can now decide for himself when he wants to leave the ring on his own terms. Mark Magsayo now has an open book to write his own destiny, which will include world championships in more than one weight class. We can’t help but be happy for both of them.

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