Donnie Nietes vacates flyweight belt, will fight for vacant WBO 115-pound title
Donnie Nietes has made his decision: he’s heading north to 115 pounds.
The Filipino champion announced that he was vacating the IBF flyweight title at a press conference Wednesday in the Philippines and will move up to the junior bantamweight division to challenge for the WBO 115-pound title Naoya Inoue left behind when he stepped up to bantamweight.
“This is the challenge I have been waiting for,” said the 35-year-old Nietes (41-1-4, 23 knockouts). “To go up in weight is never easy but this is my dream; to become a four-division world champion and to fight all the big names at super flyweight.”
Nietes was recently installed as the no. 1 contender by the WBO, with his compatriot Aston Palicte a spot below at two, followed by Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez and McWilliams Arroyo. Nietes’ promoter Michael Aldeguer says he isn’t sure who Nietes will end up fighting; only that it will be for the vacant title.
“No directive yet from the WBO as to who Donnie will be fighting against but what is sure though is he will be fighting for the vacant 115 title,” said Aldeguer in a text message.
Nietes, who had previously been a WBO strawweight and junior flyweight titleholder, had recently made his HBO debut in February, earning rave reviews by knocking out mandatory challenger Juan Carlos Reveco in seven rounds on the “SuperFly 2” card.
He is one of just three Philippine-born boxers to win world titles in at least three weight classes after Manny Pacquiao and Nonito Donaire. A fourth title would make him just the third boxer in history to win titles in the first four weight classes, following Gonzalez and Leo Gomez.
“It will mean everything for Donnie, the ALA Boxing Group and for the whole country. It would definitely add more to his legacy as one of the best fighters the Philippines has ever produced,” said Aldeguer.
The IBF informed RingTV that it had already approved Moruti Mthalane versus Muhammad Waseem for the belt Nietes is leaving behind at 112 pounds.
Ryan Songalia is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and can be reached at [email protected].