Nietes’ secret is no secret

SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - April 6, 2021 - 12:00am

Donnie Nietes came through with a clinical performance in outclassing Colombian Pablo Carrillo to score a unanimous 10-round decision for the vacant WBO International superflyweight title at the Caesar’s Palace Bluewaters in Dubai last Saturday (early Sunday morning, Manila time). He hadn’t fought in over two years and some skeptics speculated that at 38, Nietes wouldn’t be as slick as he was in capturing world titles in four weight divisions over a period of 12 years from 2007 to 2019.

But Nietes left no doubt that he remains a serious fixture in the race for total supremacy in the 115-pound class. Judge Ferenc Budai gave Carrillo only one round and judge Zoltan Enyedi, two in their scorecards. Judge Giulio Piras should go to the nearest ophthalmologist for an eye checkup because his 96-95 tally was clearly out of whack. I watched the fight on TV and did my own scoring. I thought I was a bit generous in awarding the third and sixth rounds to Carrillo. The fight wasn’t close.

Carrillo tried to bully Nietes into a corner and push him against the ropes but the Filipino master craftsman was too smart to be baited. Nietes kept the action in the middle of the ring where he controlled the tempo with shifty footwork, a rapier-like left jab and dizzying 1-2-3 combinations. Carrillo repeatedly attempted to power his way inside Nietes’ stonewall defense but couldn’t penetrate.

Nietes, who’s arriving in Cebu from Dubai today, said Carrillo showed nothing new from his previous fights. “Ganoon pa rin ang style niya,” he noted. “May lakas din at matibay. Hindi basta-basta tutumba. Ready na ako kahit sino sa superflyweight, huwag lang yung Pinoy.” Nietes fought countryman Aston Palicte in an all-Filipino encounter for the vacant WBO superflyweight title in Los Angeles in September 2018 and they battled to a split draw. Nietes then beat Japan’s Kazuto Ioka for the vacant throne in Macau late that year but relinquished the crown when ordered to face Palicte in a rematch. Not because he was afraid but because he didn’t want to fight another Filipino again. Ioka went on to stop Palicte for the belt that Nietes gave up and has since turned back two challengers. Now, there’s talk that Ioka will stake his title against Nietes in a rematch. Ioka has fought only twice outside of Japan so it’s not likely he’ll risk facing Nietes on foreign soil once more.

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