After successfully defending his World Boxing Organization (WBO) light flyweight (108 pounds) title against Francisco Rodriguez of Mexico over the weekend in Cebu City, Donnie “Ahas” Nietes said he would fight in the flyweight (112 pounds) division if given a chance.
And my take on that: Go for it!
I actually wrote in a column two weeks back (An interesting division) saying that the flyweight division is becoming more interesting because of the abundance of talent it currently has.
The Ring magazine currently ranks Nietes (36-1-4 with 21 knockouts) as its light flyweight champion and given that, the other way for him to gain more prominence is to take on the flyweights.
And guess who is The Ring’s flyweight champion? It’s no other than Roman Gonzalez from Nicaragua who sports an impressive (and scary) record of 43-0 with 38 KOs. Gonzalez is also ranked second in the The Ring’s Pound-for-Pound list right behind the still undefeated Floyd Mayweather Jr. Of the Nicaraguan’s 38 KOS, eight were scored in the first round.
Mexico’s Juan Francisco Estrada (32-2 with 23 KOs) is currently the No. 1 contender in the The Ring flyweight rankings, Amnat Ruenroeng (16-0 with 5 KOs) is No. 2 and our very own Brian Villoria (35-4 with 21 KOs) is at No. 3.
Ruenroeng recently beat our very own John Riel Casimero (21-2 with 13 KOs), who was 10th in the list of contenders of The Ring for the flyweight division prior to his loss to the Thai. Casimero is now out of The Ring rankings with Nawaphon Por Chokchai (28-0 with 21 KOs) also of Thailand taking the Filipino’s place.
Rounding up the latest in the The Ring rankings for the flyweight division are (from No. 4 to No. 9): Kazuto Ioka of Japan (17-1 with 10 KOs); Juan Carlos Reveco of Argentina (35-2 with 19 KOs); Moruti Mthalane of South Africa (31-2 with 20 KOs); Edgar Sosa of Mexico (51-9 with 30 KOs); Giovani Segura of Mexico (32-4-1 with 28 KOs); and McWilliams Arroyo of Puerto Rico (16-2 with 14 KOs).
If Nietes does campaign in the 112-pound division, he will surely be targeted by many of the boxers ranked in The Ring’s flyweight list because the Filipino is undoubtedly the top dog in the 108-pound division. And it is foolhardy to overlook the number of successful title defenses Nietes has notched at minimumweight (also called straw weight at 105 pounds) and junior flyweight to become the Filipino boxer with the most title defenses beating the great Gabriel “Flash” Elorde.
But a word of caution here – immediately taking on Gonzalez, even if that would be a dream for fight fans, would not be a wise move for the Filipino.
The “safest” opponent for Nietes in the flyweight division who is currently a belt holder is Ruenroeng. Then Nietes can take on Estrada or Ioka.
Gonzalez should be the ultimate target of Nietes and the Filipino won’t be at a big disadvantage physically against the Nicaraguan who is also 5’3” and 28 years old. Gonzalez and Nietes almost have the same reach, or 64 inches for the Nicaraguan and 65.5 inches for the Filipino.
Although Gonzalez does have knockout power, he is not a freak like Edwin Valero (RIP) who won all his 27 fights by knockout of which 19 were in the first round. Of that 19 first-round KOs, Valero scored 18 of them in a row.
At 33 years old, Nietes still has two to four good years in the ring and campaigning at light flyweight for the rest of his career might take a toll on his body considering even elite athletes put on weight during their active years. This means the 5’3” Nietes will eventually “outgrow” the light flyweight division physically.
On the other hand, there is no shortage of good Filipino boxers who can campaign at light flyweight. In fact, there are three other Filipinos in The Ring’s light flyweight rankings: No. 5 Randy Petalcorin who has an impressive record of 23-1-1 with 18 KOs and holds the World Boxing Association crown; No. 7 Milan Melindo (32-2-2 with 12 KOs); and No. 9 Rey Loreto (20-13-0 with 12 KOs) who holds the International Boxing Organization crown.
Now, let’s wait for the first bout of Nietes at flyweight.