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Donnie Nietes: From janitor to world junior flyweight champion

30
Mar

 

Photo by Anson Wainwright

Photo by Anson Wainwright

Earlier this year RING and WBO junior flyweight champion Donnie Nietes became the longest reigning Filipino world titleholder in history when he surpassed the legendary Flash Elorde’s previous record of 7 years and 3 months [Nietes held the WBO 105-pound title from September 2007 to March 2011; then stepped up to 108-pounds where he has held the WBO junior flyweight strap since].

Last Wednesday, Nietes was inaugurated into the Filipino boxing hall of fame alongside Nonito Donaire. Three days later he celebrated the achievement by retaining his WBO title for the sixth time after forcing Gilberto Parra to retire at the conclusion of the ninth round.

Nietes (35-1-4, 21 knockouts) started the fight slowly but as the fight progressed he found his form. By the eighth frame the Mexican challenger was starting to wilt under the fusillade of crisp combinations. Parra touched down in the eighth and suffered a bad cut over his left eye in the ninth before referee Jack Reiss wisely intervened and sought the advice of the ringside physician before waving the fight off.



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Nietes, 32, will fight next on July 4 against mandatory challenger Francisco Rodriguez Jr. (a former two-beltholder at 105 pounds). When asked if a move to flyweight is something he’s looking at he simply said, “I have no problem who I will be up against in future fights as long as they are already champions, I fight who (promoter) Mr. Aldeguer chooses for me.”

“[Nietes] wants the big names out there. We have to see how it goes for his weight division. He’s gonna go up four pounds,” Michael Aldeguer, CEO of ALA Promotions, confirmed to RingTV.com. “We’re gonna go through Rodriguez first and then hopefully after that, we’ll talk with (WBA/WBO titleholder Juan Francisco) Estrada.”

Nietes grew up liking boxing and travelled from Bacolod City to Cebu to follow his dream. Initially, Antonio Aldeguer declined Nietes request to box, saying he was too small; however, Nietes is nothing if not determined, so when the opportunity came to work at the ALA gym as a janitor he took it, working there for nearly 18-months. He trained before his shift and in his lunch break, while boxing as an amateur. The perseverance paid off and when he asked a second time, Aldeguer Sr. allowed him to box.

Now, 12 years later, Nietes has gone from strength to strength.

“When I first asked, I was very small, I didn’t have any muscles but I kept training,” Nietes said, recollecting how he got his first big break. “I used to install the ring; it was a sort of work out for me. It wasn’t easy. Then I would practice.”

It’s hard not to like the hard-working Nietes who is arguably the most underappreciated world champion in the sport. On Sunday afternoon Nietes sat with RingTV.com at a Starbucks in Manila and reflected on the win, his future and also his life outside boxing.

RingTV.com – What would you say about the Parra fight?

Donnie Nietes – I am very happy I was able to keep my belt. I felt I showed my best. It was a good performance. I was able to make my boxing fans happy.

RTV – Let’s talk a little about the fight. Parra started positively but you were able to build until you took over and got the stoppage?

DN – My coach and me studied him and had a game plan. We followed the game plan throughout the fight. I wasn’t in a hurry; I was building throughout the fight as you said.

RTV – You got the stoppage which is an exclamation point on the fight?

DN – I felt it was very important, that I was able to knock out Parra because I was able to show a good performance and give a good show to the boxing fans.

RTV – That fight was the biggest “Pinoy Power” promotion to date. It took place at the world famous Araneta Coliseum [site of the Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier rubbermatch 40 years ago]. It wasn’t your first appearance there but what are your thoughts about on fighting on such a big card?

DN – It was very important for me. I am already well known and have made a name for myself. It was like re-living the history of the place.

RTV – What happens from here on for you? You fly back to Cebu tomorrow…

DN – It’s holy week, I will spend that with family in Bacolod. I will be staying there. I don’t have any plans, I want to spend the time just hanging out with family. Then I’ll be going back to training.

RTV – We already know you’re next fight will be July 4 verses Francisco Rodriguez Jr. What are your thoughts?

DN – I am very happy because I have an upcoming fight. I want to go into training as soon as I can, I won’t waste time. The fight is important because he is a really big boxer and I will be preparing for it.

RTV – You were entered into the Filipino boxing hall of fame last Wednesday at the Elorde awards along with Nonito Donaire, joining Manny Pacquiao. That is a very significant honor.

DN – It is the biggest honor I have ever received in my entire career. It brought me great joy because I am able to be an inspiration to aspiring boxers.

RTV – You are a two-weight world champion, you are THE RING champion, and you broke Flash Elorde’s record. What else would you like to achieve in boxing?

DN – I am focused on winning titles in more divisions, like 112, and higher. Maybe unifications.

RTV – In a month’s time the Philippines will come to a standstill when Manny Pacquiao fights Floyd Mayweather. How do you see that fight going?

DN – My heart is with Pacquiao by my mind says Mayweather. If Manny Pacquiao wins he will knock Mayweather out.

RTV – Your stablemate Milan Melindo travels to Mexico today to prepare to face IBF 108-pound champion Javier Mendoza. How do you see it going?

DN – There is a really big chance Melindo wins this fight because I can see Milan has improved a lot.

RTV – Without getting ahead of ourselves if Milan didn’t win, would you like to face Mendoza in unification?

DN – Of course. I will fight anyone as long as my manager tells me.

RTV – Let’s talk about your life away from boxing?

DN – I’m into sports, I like to ride my bike, play basketball. I have two pet snakes in Cebu at my house, one has been with me for two years, the other has been with me for five years. I became fond of them ever since I took care of the ones that used to be at the ALA gym. If ever I quit boxing, hopefully not in the near future, hopefully I will become a businessman, opening an automotive shop, selling accessories and also a piggery. I am thinking about which businesses to open. I am single but I have two daughters.

RTV – What would your message to the boxing fans around the world be?

DN – Hi to the boxing fans around the world. I want to ask them to keep supporting me. There is more to Filipino boxing than Manny Pacquiao.

Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected] and you can follow him at www.twitter.com/AnsonWainwright

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