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Donnie Nietes-Kazuto Ioka nearly done for vacant WBO junior bantam title

Donnie Nietes will get a second straight opportunity at the vacant WBO junior bantamweight title Photo by Jhay Oh Otamias
01
Nov

Donnie Nietes will get a second shot at becoming a four-division world titleholder after the WBO ordered the Filipino fighter to face returning Japanese star Kazuto Ioka for their still-vacant junior bantamweight title.

The ruling came through at the ongoing WBO Convention in Panama, and was confirmed to THE RING by Nietes’ promoter Michael Aldeguer of ALA Promotions, who adds that “in principle the fight is a done deal,” with the contract signing a formality after direct discussions with Ioka’s promoter TLAROCK and manager Taku Nagashima.

The fight will take place on December 31, New Year’s Eve, with the Macau Tower in Macau being eyed as a potential venue.

Nietes (41-1-5, 23 knockouts) of Murcia, Negros Occidental, Philippines narrowly missed winning the title on September 8, when many felt he deserved the victory over compatriot Aston Palicte in a fight that ended in a split-draw.

Ioka (23-1, 13 KOs) of Osaka, Japan ended a 16-month retirement on the same SuperFly 3 card that Nietes faced Palicte on, outpointing McWilliams Arroyo over ten rounds in his junior bantamweight debut, which was also his first fight in the United States. Ioka is seven years younger than Nietes, and like Nietes has won world titles in three divisions, with notable victories over Akira Yaegashi, Juan Carlos Reveco and Felix Alvarado, with his lone defeat coming by split decision against Amnat Ruenroeng by split decision in 2014.

“It won’t be an easy fight either way but Donnie has always been confident. He has beaten everyone, including world champions,” said Aldeguer, adding that Ioka is a “bigger name” who comes from “a respected country like Japan instead of fighting a fellow Filipino.

“Nietes wants the biggest fights out there and this fight is a step towards that.”

The ruling leaves Palicte the odd man out. The WBO wrote on its side that Guy Taylor, representative for Palicte’s promoter Roy Jones Jr. Boxing, had sought an immediate rematch with Nietes. Their request to be the mandatory challenger for the winner of Nietes-Palicte was also declined, with an eliminator between the no. 2 ranked Palicte and the no. 4 rated Jose Martinez of Puerto Rico recommended as a solution.

Donnie Nietes will get a second shot at becoming a four-division world titleholder after the WBO ordered the Filipino fighter to face returning Japanese star Kazuto Ioka for their still-vacant junior bantamweight title.

The ruling came through at the ongoing WBO Convention in Panama, and was confirmed to THE RING by Nietes’ promoter Michael Aldeguer of ALA Promotions, who adds that the fight is “a done deal” in principle, with the contract signing a formality after direct discussions with Ioka’s promoter TLAROCK and manager Taku Nagashima.

The fight will take place on December 31, New Year’s Eve, with the Macau Tower in Macau being eyed as a potential venue. TBS will televise in Japan, with ABS-CBN showing the fight in the Philippines. “The other countries’ TV rights still have to be discussed,” Aldeguer says.

Nietes (41-1-5, 23 knockouts) of Murcia, Negros Occidental, Philippines narrowly missed winning the title on September 8, when many felt he deserved the victory over compatriot Aston Palicte in a fight that ended in a split-draw.

Ioka (23-1, 13 KOs) of Osaka, Japan ended a 16-month retirement on the same SuperFly 3 card that Nietes faced Palicte on, outpointing McWilliams Arroyo over ten rounds in his junior bantamweight debut, which was also his first fight in the United States. Ioka is seven years younger than Nietes, and like Nietes has won world titles in three divisions, with notable victories over Akira Yaegashi, Juan Carlos Reveco and Felix Alvarado, with his lone defeat coming by split decision against Amnat Ruenroeng by split decision in 2014.

Nietes and Ioka are rated no. 1 and 3 by the WBO at 115 pounds, and no. 7 and no. 4 by The Ring, respectively.

The ruling leaves Palicte the odd man out. The WBO wrote on its website that Guy Taylor, the representative for Palicte’s promoter Roy Jones Jr. Boxing, had unsuccessfully sought an immediate rematch with Nietes. Their request to be the mandatory challenger for the winner of Nietes-Palicte was also declined, with an elimination bout between the no. 2 ranked Palicte and the no. 4 rated Jose Martinez of Puerto Rico recommended as a solution.

“Shocked isn’t even a good word to describe my reaction,” said Taylor, who says he had spoken to ALA “less than a week ago” and was given no indication that there were any developments towards a fight.

“All of a sudden they have a date, venue, contracts,” Taylor continues, adding that he’ll reach out to Martinez’s promoter Miguel Cotto Promotions on Monday to attempt to reach a deal for the eliminator in the first quarter of 2019.

Ryan Songalia is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and can be reached at [email protected].

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