Donnie Nietes stops Carlos Velarde after seven, keeps 108-pound title
CEBU CITY, Philippines – THE RING junior flyweight champion Donnie Nietes scored his third straight stoppage victory, forcing Carlos Velarde to quit on his stool after Round 7 on Saturday at the Waterfront Hotel in Cebu City, Philippines.
Nietes (34-1-4, 20 knockouts) outboxed Velarde (26-4-1, 14 KOs), of Culiacan, Mexico, with his superior jab and hand speed, luring the challenger in for counterpunch opportunities. Velarde began to wilt in Round 6, when he rested against the ropes twice and took sustained combination punching from the 32-year-old champion, of Bacolod City, Philippines.
A clash of heads in Round 7 produced a nasty gash on Velarde’s right eyelid, which caused blood to flow from Velarde’s face. Velarde’s corner stopped the fight after the seventh, stating that they no longer had a competitive chance in the fight.
Nietes’ next fight is set for Feb. 14 on a Top Rank-promoted card headlined by Chinese star Zou Shiming in Macau, China, says Nietes’ promoter Michael Aldegeur of ALA Boxing. Nietes won’t be moving four pounds up to flyweight, as had previously been floated around, however, and the fight won’t be against WBO/IBF strawweight challenger Juan Francisco Jr. as well.
“Right now I think he’s more comfortable at 108 so we’ll stick to 108. The plan is really to go to 112,” said Aldegeur, who feels fights like WBA/WBO flyweight titleholder Juan Francisco Estrada and THE RING magazine flyweight champion Roman Gonzalez would enhance the 32-year-old Nietes’ legacy.
Rodriguez (16-2-1, 11 KOs), of Monterrey, Mexico, barely survived late replacement Jomar Fajardo (14-5-2, 7 KOs), of Iloilo, Philippines, to salvage a 10-round split draw on the undercard. One judge scored the fight 96-94 for Fajardo, while another had it absurdly wide at 98-92 for Rodriguez. The third scored it 95-95 even.
Aldegeur feels the fight is no longer attractive to Filipino fans, and that Rodriguez’s injuries wouldn’t permit him to fight again in three months.
“With what Rodriguez is showing, I don’t know if this will be a good fight for Donnie,” said Aldegeur of the 21-year-old who sustained a possibly broken nose in Round 3 and a hand injury that compromised his power in Round 2. “I think he even lost the fight. There’s no point in putting Rodriguez with Donnie.”
Sabillo upset in 4
Former WBO strawweight beltholder Merlito Sabillo was excited to return to the ring for the first time in eight months, to get back on the world title track following his one-sided 10th-round TKO loss to Rodriguez Jr. in March.
Unheralded Indonesian Faris Nenggo appeared to be a safe opponent for his first bout back, with his 8-6 record suggesting there wasn’t much winning spirit in him. That perception changed in the fourth round, when a left jab from Nenggo grazed the corner of Sabillo’s right eye at just the perfect angle to open up the skin.
And when it opened, it wouldn’t shut.
At 2:02 of the fourth round, the referee halted the fight, awarding the 25-year-old Nenggo what is by far his biggest victory. The nature of the stoppage could warrant a rematch after a significant layoff to heal the 30-year-old Sabillo’s cuts.
Afterwards, Aldegeur expressed his disappointment in the outcome for the Bacolod City-born Sabillo (23-2-1, 12 KOs).
“Sabillo tonight saw a lot of things where we feel he’s not at that level anymore. Let’s face it, he fought a fighter from Indonesia and he lost the fight. He lost to a fighter who isn’t a great fighter,” said Aldegeur.
Also on the card, Milan Melindo (32-1, 12 KOs) of Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines earned a unanimous decision victory over Mexico’s Saul “Baby” Juarez (20-4, 11 KOs) in his first fight since dropping from flyweight to 108 pounds.
The scores were 116-112, 115-112 and 118-111 for Melindo, who blamed the fight’s dull quality on Juarez’s unwillingness to engage. The style clash of two safety-first counterpunchers proved to be difficult for fans to enjoy, but earned Melindo the mandatory challenger spot to IBF junior flyweight champion Javier Mendoza (22-2-1, 18 KOs), of Tijuana, Mexico.
Rounding out the televised portion of the card was junior featherweight prospect Albert Pagara (22-0, 15 KOs), who turned in a complete performance against Raul Hirales (22-4-1, 11 KOs), dropping him once in the third on a series of right hands en route to a decision victory. Two judges scored all twelve rounds for Pagara 120-107, while a third found a stanza that Hirales won at 119-108.