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Two Filipino fighters are neck-deep in training in Cebu for world title fights taking place barely a month from each other starting April 29.
Donnie Nietes (39-1-4 with 22 KOs) draws first blood when he meets Thailand’s Komgrich Nantapech (22-3 with 15 KOs) vies for the vacant International Boxing Federation (IBF) flyweight crown at the Waterfront Hotel in Cebu City.
A little over three weeks later at the Ariake Coliseum in Tokyo, Milan Melindo (35-2 with 12 KOs), who is Nietes’ stablemate at the ALA Boxing Club, battles Akira Yaegashi (25-5 with 13 KOs) for the Japanese champion’s IBF light-fly belt.
As part of their respective buildups, Nietes and Melindo have been sparring against each other, according to ALA chief trainer Edito Villamor.
Apart from Melindo, the 34-year-old Nietes also bangs bodies with Lorenz Ladrada and Virgil Vitor.
“They’re both doing great in training camp,” said Villamor.
Nietes’s shot at the vacant IBF 112-lb crown is extra-special as he is gunning to become a three-division champion being an ex-IBF minimumweight (105 lbs) and light-fly (108 lbs) ruler.
No other Filipino fighter outside Manny Pacquiao (eight divisions) and Nonito Donaire (four divisions) has captured more than two world titles in as many weight classes.
The two-division titlists include brothers Dodie Boy (light-fly and fly) and Gerry Penalosa (super-fly and bantam), Luisito Espinosa (bantam and featherweight) and Johnriel Casimero (light-fly and fly).
Presently, the Philippines boasts of three current world champions: bantam Marlon Tapales, super-fly Jerwin Ancajas and welterweight Pacquiao.
Tapales makes the first defense of his World Boxng Organization title against Shohei Omori of Japan on April 23 in Osaka while Ancajas is fresh from retaining the IBF jewels last January in Macau.
Pacquiao, the standard-bearer, faces the undefeated Jeff Horn of Australia on July 2 in Brisbane.