Nietes wants flyweight shot after Garcia ‘twin’ showdown
MANILA, Philippines – Donnie Nietes has won world titles in two divisions and wants to win one in another weight class before he calls it a career.
THE RING magazine junior flyweight champion, who will also make the ninth defense of his WBO title this Saturday against Raul Garcia at the the University of St. La Salle Coliseum in Bacolod City, Philippines, restated his interest in moving up to flyweight to face WBA/WBO titleholder Juan Francisco Estrada.
Nietes, who has consistently held a world title at 105 or 108 pounds since 2007, says he feels confident he could win after watching his stablemate Milan Melindo have success against the Hermosillo, Mexico resident in their 2013 title fight.
“In my division, the challengers are all no-names. I want to fight the big names,” Nietes (37-1-4, 21 knockouts) tells RingTV.com.
“I want to fight at 112 like Estrada; it’s a challenge to do another division. It’s no problem. I’m not small at 112. I have a big chance to beat him.”
Nietes’ promoter Michael Aldeguer of ALA Promotions likes the fight too, just not for 2016. The reason being that Nietes is due for his mandatory defense against Moises Fuentes, with whom he drew in 2013 and then knocked out a year later in nine rounds to win the lineal title.
The third fight, which was mandated after Fuentes outpointed former Nietes victim Francisco Rodriguez Jr. in a December eliminator, will take place September 24 at StubHub Center in Carson, California, with exciting featherweight prospect Mark Magsayo also slated for that card.
Even with two fights lined up for this year, Aldeguer has gotten the ball rolling for a fight which could earn Nietes the greater awareness the reserved ring technician has yet to receive. Aldeguer says he has had “serious” discussions with Estrada’s promoter Zanfer Promotions about making the fight for next year and had even spoken with HBO about televising it.
“We’ve opened talks with HBO and I just met with Zanfer in Las Vegas after the Canelo (Alvarez versus Amir Khan) fight,” Aldeguer tells RingTV but adds that details have yet to be ironed out regarding Nietes schedule. Aldeguer wants Nietes to hold onto the 108-pound title to give him the opportunity to return to his most natural weight division.
“I’ve reached out to HBO. We’ve talked but nothing serious about it yet but they’ve said they want to talk about it.”
The 26-year-old Estrada (33-2, 24 KOs) has made five defenses of the unified belts he won when he outslugged Brian Viloria in 2013.
Before talks on any other fights advance, Nietes must first get past Garcia (38-3-1, 23 KOs) of La Paz, Mexico. The 33-year-old southpaw held the IBF and WBO strawweight titles on separate occasions. All three of his defeats were decisions against champions (Nkosinathi Joyi, Moises Fuentes and Pedro Guevara).
Nietes defeated Garcia’s twin brother Ramon Garcia at the same venue in 2011 for the WBO title he currently holds. He says Raul is stylistically the same as Ramon, an awkward southpaw, whose movement, at times, made it difficult for Nietes to find his counterpunching rhythm.
“His style of fighting is the same as his twin. They have the same offense. The movement of Raul Garcia is the same as Ramon Garcia, also. That’s why it’s very familiar to me,” said Nietes, who is fighting in his hometown for the first time in five years, with 10,000 fans expected to be in attendance.
Despite the tentative plans in place, Aldeguer isn’t counting out Garcia, a winner of five straight.
“Raul Garcia is a former world champion and anything can happen.”
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.
You can subscribe to the print and digital editions of THE RING Magazine by clicking the banner or here. You can also order the current issue, which is on newsstands, or back issues from our subscribe page.