We should all congratulate Donnie “Ahas” Nietes in his debut at flyweight (112 pounds) over the weekend with a resounding decision win over Mexican Edgar Sosa. But the 34-year old Sosa, whose record is now 52-10 with 30 knockouts, can hardly be considered a marquee opponent even if he was a former World Boxing Council (WBC) world flyweight champion.
And looking at the latest flyweight ranking by The Ring magazine, Sosa is not at all ranked while the list is filled with talent. Nietes (39-1-4 with 22 KOs) is now ranked No. 4 in The Ring flyweight list and the champion is no other than Roman Gonzalez of Nicaragua who has an unblemished record of 46-0 with 38 KOs. Gonzalez is also The Ring Pound-for-Pound titleholder.
Rounding up the top five contenders in the magazine’s flyweight rankings are Juan Francisco Estrada of Mexico (33-2 with 24 KOs), Kazuto Ioka of Japan (20-1 with 12 KOs), and our very own Johnriel Casimero (the International Boxing Federation champion with a record of 23-0 with 15 KOs) and Brian Viloria (36-5 with 22 KOs).
Having three Filipinos among the top five contenders in the magazine’s flyweight rankings is really remarkable, but that should not really be a surprise considering the Philippines has produced more champions at flyweight than the higher divisions. Manny Pacquiao’s first title also came at flyweight.
So far, Nietes is without a world flyweight title and the version he won over the weekend is an “international” title that I presume is lower than a world title.
To get a real world title at flyweight and his third divisional world title, Nietes has no choice but to fight Gonzalez, Ioka or compatriot Casimero. Now, if the IBF mandates Casimero and Nietes to slug it out in the ring, that will be the first time two Filipinos would be fighting each other for a world title.
And to Filipino fight fans, two compatriots fighting for a world championship is taboo. But to Mexicans, compatriots killing each other in the ring for a world title is a spectacle to watch. What a difference!
So Nietes, given that Filipino fight fans do not want to see compatriots fighting for each other at the championship level, will have no choice but to battle either Gonzalez or Ioka. Nietes fighting Gonzalez actually scares me!
Gonzalez is a rare type of fighter because besides having excellent stopping power is one of the few “two-fisted” fighters in the game. The old school of boxing saw most fighters have a “money punch” and that was usually either a left hook (in the case of southpaws, a right hook) or a right cross (for southpaws, the left cross).
But as the game evolves, fighters who could pack a wallop from both fists are becoming the norm. In fact, Floyd Mayweather Jr. was a good example of a boxer who used his two fists effectively, although his right cross was his most feared weapon.
The good news is Gonzalez recently annexed the WBC world super-flyweight (junior bantamweight, 115 pounds) title with a decision win over Carlos Cuadras. So that means the Nicaraguan knockout artist will eventually have to abandon his WBC world flyweight title (and with it, The Ring magazine title for the division) to concentrate at super-flyweight.
If Gonzalez gives up his flyweight titles, Nietes could emerge as one of the top three or two fighters in the division. Nietes or Casimero emerging as The Ring flyweight champions will also be a welcome development.
Now, what if Gonzalez decides to stay at flyweight for another year? This is what I can say—Nietes is in a danger zone.