Longest reigning Filipino world boxing champion Donnie “Ahas” Nietes will defend his belt against former world champion Mexican Francisco Rodriguez Jr. on July 4 in the 31st edition of Pinoy Pride at the Waterfront Cebu Hotel and Casino in Cebu City.
Nietes, the defending World Boxing Organization light flyweight champion, is one of the two current Filipino world boxing champions. The other one is Randy Petalcorin, the interim World Boxing Association light flyweight titleholder.
Nietes, 33, who shattered Gabriel “Flash” Elorde’s record of seven years and three months reign as a world champ on January, confirmed on Tuesday that he will be facing the younger Rodriguez for his second title defense this year.
“My training is ongoing right now because I cannot afford to relax. In fact, I started training a few weeks back. Rodriguez is not just an ordinary opponent but I’m not nervous,” Nietes, who holds a 35-1-4 win-loss-draw record with 21 knockouts, told The Manila Times during a phone interview.
Rodriguez, 21, who has 17-2-1 record with 11 knockouts, issued a challenge to Nietes during a press conference in November before he fought Jomar Fajardo who won against Carlos Velarde via seventh round referee technical decision in Cebu.
Rodriguez and Fajardo’s bout ended in a draw but the Mexican bounced back in January 31 in their rematch in Mexico beating the Filipino via unanimous decision.
He also dethroned Filipino Merlito Sabillo via tenth round technical knockout on March 22, 2014 in Mexico to win his first world title the WBO minimum weight belt. He posted another win via unanimous decision over Japanese Katsunari Takayama on August 9 to take the International Boxing Federation minimum weight belt for his second title.
But Nietes is not intimidated of his foe’s accomplishments. “I train smart and I fight smart that’s what I’m doing every time I fight. Good stamina, fast reflexes and power-packed punches will help me. I need to improve those [traits],” he said.
Nietes, also a former WBO minimum weight champion, beat his last opponent Mexican Gilberto Parra via ninth round technical knockout on March 28 at the Araneta Coliseum.