Nietes wins ‘Athlete of the Year’
(The Freeman) - March 31, 2015 - 10:00am

CEBU, Philippines – A handful of athletes excelled in their respective sports in 2014 but nobody’s star shone brighter than world boxing champion Donnie 'Ahas' Nietes.

Nietes had a momentous year that earned him another “Athlete of the Year” award from the Sportswriters Association of Cebu during the 33rd SAC-SMB (San Miguel Brewery) All-Cebu Sports Awards at the Ayala Activity Center yesterday.

“It’s been an amazing run for Donnie, from being a janitor to become a legendary hall-of-fame athlete is beyond words for the ALA Gym and ALA Promotions to be part of it. It’s a journey that one could only dream of, but if you work for it nothing is impossible,” said ALA Promotions President and CEO Michael Aldeguer, who has helped Nietes’ rise to stardom.

The 32-year-old two-division world champion became the lineal world light flyweight titlist  after a picture-perfect knockout finish of Mexican rival Moises Fuentes in their rematch on May 10, 2014.

Nietes fought to a draw with Fuentes, a former minimumweight crown-holder, in 2013. The following year it was a different story as Nietes totally outclassed Fuentes, considered as one of the division’s elite fighters, and eventually destroyed him in the ninth round at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

Six months after, Nietes fought a young challenger in Carlos Velarde, who would be his final roadblock before surpassing the record of the late Gabriel “Flash” Elorde as the longest reigning Filipino world champion. He easily barreled through Velarde and stopped him in seven rounds at the Waterfront-Cebu City Hotel and Casino, the same place where he won his first world title back in 2007.

At the turn of 2015, Nietes broke Elorde’s 47-year-old record as the longest reigning Filipino world champion.

“I have this saying that I have always held on to, ‘Dream…Believe…Achieve…’. And I think this is what defines Donnie as an athlete. He believes in himself that nothing is impossible if you work hard and keep your feet on the ground,” said Aldeguer.

Nietes was also named as The Ring Magazine’s 100 World’s Best Fighters in 2014 at No. 46 along with four other Filipinos in Manny Pacquiao, Nonito Donaire Jr., Brian Viloria and Johnriel Casimero.

Nietes started the year on the right footing by successfully defending his WBO and The Ring light flyweight crowns with a ninth round stoppage of Mexican challenger Gilberto Parra last Saturday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.

Nietes is set to defend his titles on July 4 at the Waterfront Hotel against former WBO and International Boxing Federation (IBF) 105-pound king Francisco Rodriguez. He is also targeting the big names in the flyweight division like Juan Francisco Estrada and Roman Gonzalez.

“His longevity, he wants to hold on to the belt for 10 years and hopefully fight the big names,” said Aldeguer of his expectations from Nietes in the future.

From his humble beginnings sweeping the floor of the ALA Gym, Nietes has gone a long way through his hard work and dedication.

He is indeed an epitome of a true athlete. (Pooled report)

ACIRC ALDEGUER ALL-CEBU SPORTS AWARDS ATHLETE OF THE YEAR AYALA ACTIVITY CENTER BEST FIGHTERS BRIAN VILORIA AND JOHNRIEL CASIMERO CARLOS VELARDE DONNIE ELORDE NIETES
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