Nietes needs Gonzalez to cement legacy

Ed C. Tolentino

Ed C. Tolentino

It is now eight years and counting as world champion for Filipino Donnie “Ahas” Nietes following his recent successful defense of the World Boxing Organization (WBO) light flyweight (108 pounds) championship against Mexican challenger Juan Alejo in Carson, California. Nicknamed “Pinky,” Alejo was beaten black-and-blue as Nietes broke him down with an excellent display of counterpunching.

Nietes improved his record to 37-1, 4 draws with 21 knockouts. He has been a world champion since 2007, when he defeated Pornsawan Por¬pramook for the vacant WBO mini¬mumweight (105 pounds) title. With the recent win over Alejo, Nietes stretched his unbeaten run to 29 fights, with 3 bouts ending in a draw. Nietes is already in the record books for being the longest-reigning Filipino world champion, but his lengthy reign aside boxing experts aver that he needs one super fight to cement his legacy.

This is where World Boxing Council (WBC) flyweight king Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez comes in. On the same day Nietes made his United States debut, Gonzalez battered and halted Brian Viloria in nine rounds to retain the 112-pound title. Recently installed as boxing’s pound-for-pound king, Gonzalez (44-0, 38 knockouts) came up with a superb performance against Viloria, dominating with his speed, accuracy and awesome power punching.

With Nietes and Gonzalez both posting victories, it did not take long for boxing fans to raise the clarion and call for a showdown between the two lower-weight champions. Nietes wasted no time in calling out Gonzalez shortly after the Alejo fight. “Gusto ko si Gonzalez,” said Nietes. “Nanalo ako, nanalo siya, so sa susunod kami na dapat ang maglaban.”

This writer, for one, has been the recipient of messages from several local fight fans who have expressed interest in the fight. While it is clear that Gonzalez will be the overwhelming favorite, Nietes’ ring smarts and unorthodox style figure to make the fight very intriguing. Unlike Viloria who just stands in front of his foe, Nietes loves to move, weave, and even crouch low to avoid counterpunches. Nietes has a unique style of throwing the overhand right (he crouches, then suddenly springs into offense using the right hand; much like a snake bite) and while he may not be as powerful as Gonzalez, the Filipino has that pesky style that can ruin a foe’s rhythm. “Gonzalez has problems fighting smart fighters,” opined multi-division champion Nonito Donaire, Jr.

“Very methodical boxers sila pareho. Chessmatch ito,” mused local fight fan Jeffrey Bengco.

“Mabilis at tumatama ang mga suntok ni Gonzalez pero si Nietes magaling mag-adjust,” mused another fan, Edz Bautista.

“With Ahas’ style, I think maiilang si Gonzalez,” quipped fight follower Anthony Yan.

At age 33, Nietes is not getting any younger and he is overdue for a super fight. Nietes is expected to move up to flyweight in his next fight to come within Gonzalez’s weight category. There are however reports suggesting that Gonzalez is also planning to move up to the super flyweight (115 pounds) division and challenge World Boxing Association (WBA) champion Kohei Kono (31-8, 13 knockouts) of Japan.

If Gonzalez is as good as advertised, he should have no problem staying in the flyweight ranks and consenting to one last fight in the division against Nietes. On Nietes’ part, he must demand from his handlers that they make the fight. Nietes may opt to just loiter in the light flyweight and flyweight divisions to stretch his title reign, but he will only earn the respect of the international fight community and raise his market value if he lures Gonzalez in the same ring and defeats the highly regarded Nicaraguan.

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  1. Chocolatito is most likely to fight next against Gallo Estrada to settle the score once in for all. Roman clearly defeated Estrada in their one and only fight but did not knock him out. This fight should guarantee a big purse for both fighters. Gonzalez will punch the lights out of Estrada in a 2nd fight.
    I feel Roman already is having some trouble making the weight limit. He will max out at 115 pounds win a 4th division belt against Kohei Kono and then should retire financially sound and undefeated. I feel the only boxer who could give Roman a hell of a fight at this point in time is the Japanese, Inoue.

  2. Brian gave a good account of himself & lost to the better fighter. I think gonzalez is the best in the world at his weight & i dont expect Nietes to fight him. I want him to but i fear he wont. Lets all keep our fingers crossed for this fight to happen. If it does i expect Gonzalez to win, again probably inside the distance.

    • I agree Roman won the fight convincingly against Viloria but I was not happy with the referee’s decision to stop the bout in the 9th round. Viloria was still fighting well and he could have lasted a couple of extra rounds. The public missed out on some more great action during this bout.