By Nick Giongco
Two former world title challengers and a couple of fast-rising stars make up the star-studded cast of sparring partners of Donnie Nietes, who guns for a fourth world crown on Dec. 31 in Macau.
Three-division world champion Nietes is booked to battle Kazuto Ioka of Japan either at the Macau Tower or Wynn Macau for the vacant World Boxing Organization (WBO) super-flyweight title and the Filipino’s camp is already neck-deep in preparations.
“Donnie started training last month and his sparring partners are youthful punchers Jeo Santisina and KJ Cataraja and ex-world title challengers Jonas Sultan and Arthur Villanueva,” said ALA Boxing lead trainer Edito Villamor.
While the formal announcement hasn’t been made, Michael Aldeguer, who manages and promotes Nietes, swears the event is pretty much a done deal.
“The major players of the promotion are coming over here this week to finalize,” said Aldeguer, who will be joined by stakeholders from Japan and the US.
Nietes is actually getting his second shot at the WBO 115-lb throne after his bout with Aston Palicte, another Filipino last September in Los Angeles, was ruled a draw although Nietes was the much better fighter.
Villamor, a two-time world title challenger, believes Nietes will finally crown himself on New Year’s Eve.
“Our chances of winning is more than 50-50,” said Villamor.
On the same night Nietes was deprived of victory against Palicte, Ioka scored an emphatic win over Puerto Rican McWilliams Arroyo.