By DENNIS PRINCIPE
Three-division world champion Donnie ‘Ahas’ Nietes is hell bent on moving up in weight and willing to take on the best fighters in the superflyweight class the soonest possible time.
Initially, Nietes’ promoter Michael Aldeguer wanted the Murcia-native IBF world flyweight champion to test his conditioning with those added weight the first few weeks of training, something which chief trainer Edito Villamor wanted to happen.
But the 35-year-old Nietes feels the time is ripe for him to prove his worth not only as a longtime world champion but also a marketable prospect who deserves a share of boxing’s elite limelight.
‘Gusto ko world championship na kasi baka kalawangin lang ako kung unahin ko ang tune-up bago labanan mga world champions ng superfly,” said Nietes.
Aldeguer meantime assures he would negotiate the best possible fight especially the type of bouts that will make his prized ward a household name.
For a while, Nietes (41-1-4, 23 knockouts) took a backseat to his more illustrious stablemates at the famed ALA Boxing Gym as people were enamoured with the likes of Czar Amonsot, Rey ‘Boom Boom’ Bautista, AJ ‘Bazooka’ Banal and Z Gorres who all came short of winning a world crown.
“Even when he became a world champion, his snake was more popular than him,” said Aldeguer.
Back in the day, boxing fans were more interested in having a picture with that reptile Nietes bring along whenever he makes his ring entrance.
“Ok lang naman kasi ang focus ko naman talaga ay manalo sa bawat laban. Yung mga alaga kong ahas, gusto ko nga isama sa US kaya lang hindi makakuha ng visa, “ was how Nietes light-heartedly recalled people’s admiration towards his unusual pet.
Just last month, Nietes scored what many believe was a breakthrough win for him as it came 11 years after he won his first world crown.
Nietes was able to defend his IBF crown via a masterful seventh round destruction of mandatory challenger and former two-division titleholder Juan Carlos Reveco of Argentina which was aired via giant cable network HBO on February 24 at The Forum in Inglewood, California.
What made the win special for Nietes was the fact that the fight was held beneath the superflyweight title bout between defending champion Srisaket Sorv Rungvisai of Thailand and Mexican Juan Francisco Estrada which was won by the Thai via decision to keep his WBC crown.
“Sila naman talaga mga dream fights ko. 105 pa lang kami gusto ko na silang makalaban. Kaya kung nasa 115 sila, gusto ko na sila akyatin at hamunin,” added Nietes.
Being a longtime WBO champion, Nietes is being given the first option to vie for the vacant 115lb crown recently vacated by Naoya Inoue of Japan who decided to move up in weight.
Before conquering the flyweight division, Nietes held the WBO minimumweight crown September 2007 to August 2010 then moved up to capture the WBO 108lb crown which he held from October 2011 to May 2016.
Initially, the WBO was set to sanction a title bout between Nietes against another one of his dream foes, Roman ‘Chocolatito” Gonzalez but the Nicaraguan informed the organization of his desire to have one tune up match in May before gunning for a world crown.
Currently, unbeaten Hong Kong superstar Rex Tso is the highest rated boxer in the WBO superfly rankings followed by Filipino Aston Palicte. Gonzalez is ranked third by the Puerto Rico-based organization.
“Kahit sino sa rankings ibigay na nila sa akin basta world title ang laban. Wala nang atrasan. Aakyat na talaga ako,’ disclosed Nietes.