Donnie Nietes targets Roman Gonzalez for future showdown
MANILA, Philippines – This past weekend was a big one for boxing’s lightest divisions. In New York, flyweight champion Roman Gonzalez was officially crowned as the sport’s pound-for-pound king on Saturday with a nine-round domination of Brian Viloria at Madison Square Garden.
That same night, Donnie Nietes, who has ruled the junior flyweight division for the past four years, made his American debut with a shutout of Juan Alejo at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif.
Following his unanimous decision win, THE RING 108-pound champ Nietes told reporters that Gonzalez was the fight he wanted most. Nietes’ promoter Michael Aldeguer says the fight can happen – just not next.
Aldeguer tells RingTV.com that he had spoken with Gonzalez’s American promoter Tom Loeffler of K2 Promotions in the past, but says Nietes is likely to take at least two more fights before facing the unbeaten Nicaraguan.
“We had a discussion, HBO also wanted to talk about it but we felt it was premature to discuss it before the results on Saturday. We’ll resume the talks again. Nietes wants the fight. I think they also want the fight,” said Aldeguer, president of ALA Promotions.
“We’re looking at late next year or early 2017. Nietes is a 108 now. He has to gradually move up to 112 to fight Chocolatito.”
Aldeguer says the 33-year-old Nietes (37-1-4, 21 knockouts) will likely fight in his hometown of Bacolod City, Philippines in March, followed by another bout around July, either in the United States or the Middle East.
“Hopefully in October, if we can get things done for Chocolatito then we’ll do it in October,” said Aldeguer, who says he’ll discuss potential opponents for the March date with his father and ALA founder Antonio Aldeguer in the next few weeks.
Emails requesting comment to Loeffler and Gonzalez’s manager Carlos Blandon were not returned by Monday afternoon.
The 28-year-old Gonzalez (44-0, 38 KOs) ascended to the top spot on the pound-for-pound list following Floyd Mayweather’s retirement in September. He had previously held titles at 105 and 108 pounds before knocking out Akira Yaegashi in September 2014 to win the flyweight title.
Nietes, who had been teasing a move to flyweight since before his victory over Carlos Velarde in November 2014, has not lost since 2004, when Indonesian Angky Angkotta missed weight by six pounds and won a split-decision in Indonesia.
Nietes and Gonzalez have faced four common opponents, with both scoring knockouts of Eddy Castro and decisions over Manuel Vargas. Nietes won decisions against Ramon Garcia Hirales and Francisco Rodriguez Jr. while Gonzalez stopped both of them.
Rodriguez, after losing a one-sided decision to Nietes this past July in Cebu City, told this writer that he felt Gonzalez would win should they fight. Vargas told RingTV that he
“Chocolatito hits harder and has better technique but he didn’t knock me out,” the now retired Vargas said in Spanish, as translated by Ben Jacobs.
Another intriguing fight for Gonzalez would be a rematch with WBO/WBA flyweight titleholder Juan Estrada, who lost a unanimous decision to Gonzalez in 2012 in Gonzalez’s toughest fight in recent years.
Gonzalez, who has fought many times in Japan, could also move up to junior bantamweight to face Japanese WBO titleholder Naoya Inoue, which has drawn interest among hardcore fans.
Ryan Songalia is the sports editor of Rappler, a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) and a contributor to THE RING magazine. He can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @RyanSongalia.