Donnie Nietes stops Raul Garcia after five, looks to ‘bigger fights’
BACOLOD CITY, Philippines – Donnie Nietes strengthened his case for bigger fights in the higher weight classes with a dominant fifth-round technical knockout win over Raul Garcia on Saturday at the University of St. La Salle Coliseum in Bacolod City, Philippines.
Nietes (38-1-4, 22 knockouts) successfully defended his WBO junior flyweight title for the ninth time, and also retained THE RING title at 108 pounds, stopping the former two-time strawweight titleholder Garcia (38-4-1, 23 KOs) for the first time in the Mexican veteran’s 12-year career.
The win was particularly sweet for Nietes, 34, who was fighting in his home province of Negros Occidental, Philippines for the first time in five years. That occasion ended on a bittersweet note as he faded late and settled for an anticlimactic win over Raul Garcia’s twin brother Ramon Garcia to win the WBO 108-pound title.
This time Nietes appeared much more dynamic, dropping Garcia twice in Round 3, beginning with a left hook that left the La Paz, Mexico native seriously dazed before a right hand to the body touched him on the way down. Garcia went down a minute later following a combination that was punctuated by another right hand to the body.
It was target practice from there on for Nietes, compelling Garcia’s corner to throw in the towel following the fifth round.
“Of course I am very happy because I was able to fulfill my promise to my countrymen,” said Nietes, who grew up in nearby Murcia.
Nietes voiced his interest in higher-caliber fights at flyweight against WBC/RING champion Roman Gonzalez and WBA/WBO unified titleholder Juan Francisco Estrada, but Nietes must first get through a mandatory defense with Moises Fuentes, whom Nietes had knocked out and drawn with in two previous fights.
The third Fuentes fight has already been finalized for Sept. 24 at StubHub Center in Carson, Calif., Nietes’ promoter Michael Aldeguer of ALA Promotions tells RingTV.com, but he says he had already met with Estrada’s promoter Zanfer Promotions to discuss a fight with Estrada at 112 pounds.
Nietes’ designation by the WBO as a “super champion” would enable him to fight another titleholder in a higher weight class while retaining the option to hold onto his title at 108 pounds, as Aldeguer has stated they intend to do.
“It’s time to make bigger fights now,” says Aldeguer, who revealed he had exchanged emails with HBO about the possibility of televising a Nietes vs Estrada fight.
“It’s an expensive fight, a big fight, two world champions. We’ve also talked with HBO. Nothing serious but we’ve exchanged emails. The reason I haven’t pushed it is because of this fight,” said Aldeguer.
Villanueva-Jimenez ends in controversy
Arthur Villanueva had his hand raised following his bantamweight debut, but it didn’t come without controversy.
The 27-year-old Villanueva (29-1, 15 KOs) and Juan Jimenez (22-10, 15 KOs) thrilled the crowd for 4 rounds, as Villanueva was dropped in round two, then Jimenez went down in round three, and each appeared a punch away from going back down the rest of the way.
As Villanueva pressed the action early in round four, their heads clashed violently and Jimenez dropped to the canvas unconscious. He remained there motionless for several minutes before coming to and leaving the ring on his own power.
Despite the concussive blow being a clash of heads and not a punch, Villanueva was declared the winner by knockout, instead of the expected result of a no-contest.
Villanueva has won two straight since losing a close decision to McJoe Arroyo last year for the vacant IBF junior bantamweight title.
Melindo struggles on scales and in the ring
Milan Melindo’s difficulties began on the scales, where he weighed in 4 3/4 pounds over the contractually agreed upon 110-pound limit, and they continued once the bell rang for his bout against Maximino Flores. Melindo prevailed in the end, winning a unanimous decision in a headbutt-shortened fight by the scores of 69-64, 68-65 and 67-66.
The 69-64 scorecard did not reflect the reality of a close, physical battle which saw the Mexican Flores (19-3, 13 KOs) back up the two-time title challenger Melindo (34-2, 12 KOs) of Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines. Melindo did his best work with short uppercuts as Flores leaned in, but none of them were strong enough to back Flores up.
The fight came to an abrupt halt after an attacking Flores clashed heads with Melindo, creating a serious cut on his left eye.
Earlier in the night, Kevin Jake Cataraja (4-0, 3 knockouts) of Cebu City, Philippines had little difficulty in dispatching Thai opponent Chatchai Or Benjamas (5-8, 4 KOs), dropping him 3 times before the fight was waved off at :14 of round four.