• Somebody up there loves Moises

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    Ed C. Tolentino

    Ed C. Tolentino

    While it has been almost two years since Donnie Nietes and Moises Fuentes swapped leather, the manner by which the Filipino annihilated the lanky Mexican fighter continues to draw chills from local boxing fans.

    Defending his World Boxing Organization (WBO) light flyweight title (108 lbs.) before a hometown crowd at the Mall of Asia Arena in May 2014, Nietes dominated Fuentes on his way to a pulsating ninth round knockout. Fuentes came in with a lot of confidence, having held Nietes to a thrilling stalemate in their first meeting in March 2013. In the rematch, however, Nietes had Fuentes all figured out and was never seriously threatened. Fuentes found it difficult to solve Nietes’ crouching style and his stiff upper body made him a sucker for Nietes’ sizzling overhand rights. The only scary moment came in the ninth round when Nietes risked disqualification by hitting Fuentes after the latter already went down on his knees. Nietes was penalized a point for the infraction, but he went on to floor Fuentes two more times to seal the victory.

    Don’t look now, but it appears that Nietes and Fuentes are on a collision course for the third time. The head honchos of the WBO recently directed Nietes to defend the light flyweight diadem against Fuentes after the Mexican defeated countryman Francisco Rodriguez Jr. in a title-elimination match last December. Rodriguez showed up overweight in the fight but gave Fuentes quite a scare before losing by split-decision. Rodriguez was the same fighter Nietes methodically whipped in l2 rounds last July.

    Fuentes, 23-2 with 12 knockouts, has compiled four straight victories since losing to Nietes. With the exception of the Rodriguez fight, however, Fuentes’ feasted on doughnut-knitted foes. Truth be told, Fuentes’ best days came when he was the WBO minimumweight (105 lbs.) champion between 2011 and 2012. Fuentes’ best performance came in October 2012, when he dismantled the diminutive Ivan Calderon in five rounds in defense of the minimumweight crown.

    The 30-year-old Fuentes has struggled at light flyweight and it showed in the way Nietes dominated him. Fuentes can only hope that a new trainer (reportedly Mexican legend Erik Morales) will boost his chances in the third meeting.

    Nietes, 37-1 with 21 knockouts, has been aching for a big money fight opposite World Boxing Council (WBC) flyweight (112 lbs.) king Roman Gonzalez of Nicaragua. Nietes can ignore the WBO’s directive to fight Fuentes and assiduously pursue the fight with Gonzalez. But this is easier said than done because relinquishing the belt or being stripped by it will interrupt Nietes’ record as the country’s longest-reigning champion. Note further that Gonzalez (44-0, 38 knockouts) is a WBC titleholder and the WBO doesn’t figure to waste any time in stripping Nietes should the Filipino show preference for the belt of a rival organization.

    As things stand, Nietes will accede to the WBO’s order and take on Fuentes again, possibly in Cebu. If Nietes prevails, he will look to land the big fight with Gonzalez in October. Nietes needs the Gonzalez fight to receive that long-overdue recognition from the international fight media. The Fuentes fight stands as an aberration, but it is something Nietes must deal with.

    Somebody up there loves Moises, but you can exclude Donnie. To date, Nietes’ performance in the rematch with Fuentes is considered by many as his most impressive showing. The third time around, the Filipino is promising to deliver more harm than charm.

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    For comments, the writer can be reached at atty_eduardo@yahoo.com.

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