By Dennis 'dSource' Guillermo
Perhaps the most underappreciated fighter out of all the Filipino boxing World Champions, Bacolod City's pride and ALA Gym's own Donnie "Ahas (Snake)" Nietes (28-1-3, 16KOs) is ready to complete his growth and evolution at a higher weight class, when he challenges Ramon Garcia Hirales (16-2-1, 9KOs) for the WBO World light flyweight title at the University of St. La Salle Gym in Bacolod on September 10.
Nietes holds the distinction of being the longest tenured Filipino world title holder when he held on to his WBO minimumweight belt for more than 3 years and a half years, and is the only Filipino who claim to have successfully defended his title three times in Mexico against Mexican opponents.
Nietes vacated that title after winning his last defense in Mexico against Mario Rodriguez in August of 2010, and is aiming at becoming a two-division World Champion against Hirales.
Hirales is no pushover. When he lost the interim WBO light flyweight title he won from Filipino Johnriel Casimero in July of 2010 to Jesus Geles via split decision earlier this year, he came back and knocked Geles out in four rounds two months after, for the full version of the WBO light flyweight belt.
With that said, Nietes is a masterful ring technician, who in my book, is the best overall fighter in the ALA stable at this point in time. He has also made tremendous strides while training with strength and conditioning coach Pio Solon in Cebu, and claims to be in the best shape of his career.
“Training has been intense. I feel great at 108. Much better than at 105,” Nietes told me when I recently caught up with him to check on his progress in training camp. “Hirales may be strong, but I believe I'm the smarter and faster fighter.
The 29-year-old gym custodian turned gym hero Nietes has always displayed a veteran's poise inside the ring far ahead of his years. He is calculating and precise, and has shown to be able to make quick adjustments with his game plan inside the ring.
Nietes is determined and confident about his chances against Hirales, and can't wait to put on a show for his hometown fans.
“The fight against Hirales is my dream fight. It's a world title fight and finally, I get to fight in my own yard which is Bacolod,” Nietes said, and added, “I won't predict how I'm gonna win. But after the fight, I will be a 2-division World Champion.”