• Nietes keeps title with 9th-round TKO win over Fuentes

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    DONNIE “Ahas” Nietes relied on powerful counter-punching to knock out Mexican Moses Fuentes in the ninth round and keep his World Boxing Organization (WBO) light flyweight crown Saturday night in their title rematch at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

    Fuentes, 28, who hung tough in the early rounds, had no answer to the 31-year-old Nietes’ barrage.

    “I didn’t focus on the knockout in the early rounds, but I smelled it when I hurt him so bad in the sixth and seventh round,” Nietes, who improved to 33-1-4 win-loss-draw record with 19 knockouts, told a post-fight press conference.

    The Mexican, who could not adjust to Nietes’ new strategy of counter-punching and fast-paced fighting, absorbed a lot of uppercuts and was shaken by solid left and right hooks in the seventh up to the eighth round.

    Nietes went to work on Fuentes’ midsection, forcing the Mexican to bring down his arms and leaving him open to shots in the head.

    Fuentes went down in the eighth round but eventually got up. Instead of staying away in the ninth, he chose to press on. He paid dearly for his bravado as Nietes floored him for the second time with a left hook.

    Nietes’ right powerful hook to Fuentes’ jaw just before the bell decked Fuentes for the third time. Referee Robert Byrd stepped in and declared Nietes the winner.

    With the win, Nietes could break Gabriel “Flash” Elorde’s record of holding on to a world title for seven years and three months.

    In other bouts at Pinoy Pride XXV, Milan Melindo scored a unanimous decision win against Mexican Martin Tecuapetla to retain his WBO International flyweight title.

    Rey “Boom Boom” Bautista made a successful ring comeback by scoring a unanimous decision against Mexican Sergio Villanueva.

    Melindo improved to 31-1 record with 12 konockouts, while Bautista now holds 35 wins and three losses with 25 knockouts.

    JOSEF RAMOS

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