Nietes facing the better twin

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Ed C. Tolentino

Ed C. Tolentino

It’s one of the strange twists in pro boxing, a champion defending against the twin brother of the fighter he had previously defeated. For his own safety, World Boxing Association (WBO) light flyweight (108 lbs.) champion Donnie “Ahas” Nietes should be reminded that he is facing arguably the better twin brother.

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In October 2011, Nietes captured the WBO light flyweight crown with a hard-earned unanimous decision win over Mexican Ramon Garcia in his native Bacolod City. The win did not come easy as Nietes ran out of steam in the middle rounds and nearly capitulated down the stretch. Garcia demanded an immediate rematch but the WBO found no valid ground to grant the same.

Five years and eight successful defenses later, Nietes is booked to defend this Saturday the WBO light flyweight diadem against Raul “Rayito” Garcia, the twin brother of Ramon Garcia. Overall, Nietes is 14-0 with 1 draw against Mexican boxers, the lone blemish being a March 2013 majority draw against Moises Fuentes. Nietes avenged the stalemate with Fuentes by registering a convincing 9th round stoppage in their May 2014 rematch.

Raul Garcia, 38-3 with 20 knockouts, lost a razor-close decision to Fuentes in 2011 but has since won 8 of his last 9 fights. Unlike his twin brother Ramon, Raul Garcia offers a more aggressive style, a sturdier jaw and a meaner punch. Garcia has never been knocked out in his entire career and holds impressive victories over Filipinos Florante Condes (decision, 2008), Rommel Asenjo (KO 3, 2011) and Michael Landero (KO 3, 2012).

Raul Garcia is a pressure fighter who loves to work his way inside and inflict pain using his left straight. The only problem with Garcia is that he has not fought anyone with a decent pulse since he was beaten on points by countryman Pedro Guevarra in March 2013. Guevarra went on to win the World Boxing Council (WBC) light flyweight title in 2014. On the other hand, Garcia rebuilt his record by feasting on a collection of journeymen. Garcia’s last two victories came against opponents with a combined win-loss record of 13-24.

Garcia, 33, is a two-time minimum weight (105 lbs.) champion who is on his last legs. The Nietes fight may be his swan song and this explains why Garcia is never more inspired to break the Filipino’s winning streak against Mexican fighters. Of there, is also the angle of avenging the defeat Garcia’s twin brother suffered five years ago in the hands of Nietes.

Nietes, 37-1 with 20 knockouts, is also in his dog years at 34, but he has not lost a fight since 2004. He appears to be ageing like vintage wine, too, having won 3 of his last 5 fights by stoppage. Nietes, however, yearns for the big fight that will solidify his place in boxing history. The past few years he has been embroiled in a wild goose chase with undefeated Nicaraguan bomber Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez (45-0, 38 knockouts), the pound-for-pound ruler of boxing.

Gonzalez currently holds the WBC flyweight (112 lbs.) title and is contemplating on moving up to junior bantamweight (115 lbs.). If he is to stay on course for the mega fight with Gonzalez, Nietes will have to beat Garcia in impressive fashion.

Nietes is the favorite to prevail and this writer sees an exciting scuffle ahead. As aforementioned, Raul Garcia is an exciting bomber, but his tendency to be wild on his punches makes him the ideal target for Nietes’ counter right hand.

Nietes has his eyes fixed on a “twin kill,” but Garcia is bent on reaching “twin peaks.”

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In other local boxing news, Jeffrey “The Bull” Atienza (14-4, 8 knock­outs) is being lined up to fight for the vacant WBC-ABCO jr. junior welterweight showdown against a still to be named Indonesian adversary.

Atienza previously held the WBC Youth lightweight title but failed in his attempt to win the WBC International junior welterweight title last year. The Bull figures to be back to his goring ways when he bids for the WBC-ABCO jr. junior welterweight diadem in a card dubbed “Night of Champions 3.”

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