BACOLOD CITY, Philippine – Finally, the much awaited face-off between the reigning World Boxing Organization (WBO) and Ring magazine junior flyweight champion Donnie “Ahas” Nietes (35-4-1, 21KOs) and Mexican challenger and former unified WBO/International Boxing Federation (IBF) minimumweight world champ Francisco Rodriguez, Jr. (17-2-1,11KO’s) will be realized today a both fighters set to meet in today’s press conference for the Pinoy Pride 31: Clash of World Champions in Cebu City.
Nietes, who hailed from Bacolod and Murcia and also the longest reigning Filipino champion, in a report said that he is looking forward to avenge the loss of his friend, stablemate and fellow Negrense Merlito “Tiger” Sabillo – who lost to Rodriguez last year.
The erstwhile WBO mnimumweight champion Sabillo surrendered his belt to Rodriguez after downed in the 10th round in their title fight in Mexico.
Nietes has been in tough training in ALA gym in Cebu since April to prepare for his face-off with Rodriguez on Saturday, July 11, at the Waterfront Cebu City Hotel and Casino.
ALA gym’s lead trainer Edmund Villamor has stressed that Nietes has the edge over the Mexican when the bell rings.
“Donnie (Nietes) is more experienced than Rodriguez. He has also an edge in skills, speed and power. And, most importantly has the home court advantage,” Villamor said.
In any sport, home court is always an advantage in which gave an athlete more confidence in fighting before his home crowd. However, this doesn’t apply that much to Nietes as he is also undefeated in all his fights in Mexico – beating down his opponents despite the pressure from the home fans.
But, Villamor reiterated that they won’t be that complacent against Rodriguez as he is a former champion who has an impressive record against Filipino fighters.
Bacolod City Mayor Monico Puentevella yesterday said that he believes that Nietes will prevail in this fight. “I know Donnie [Nietes] will prevail in this match because he possesses the proper motivation and guidance under my former [basketball] coach, Antonio’Bidoy’ Aldeguer. And, Donnie has the heart and the will to win,” Puentevella said.
Murcia town Mayor Andrew Montelibano also foresees similar result on the Nietes-Rodriguez face-off. “With the kind of conditioning and training he is in, I believe Donnie [Nietes] will retain his title. I am in contact with him personally and I can see he is more ready than ever,” Montelibano said.
Also featured in Pinoy Pride 31 is co-main event Mark “Magnifico” Magsayo alongside another promising young prospect Kevin Jake Cataraja.
The undefeated Magsayo (10-0) will face Mexican Rafael Reyes (16-4) for the vacant IBF Youth featherweight title while, Cataraja meets Indonesian Ardi Tefa for a 6-round clash.