By Ronnie Nathanielsz
WBO light flyweight champion Ramon "Principe" Garcia Hirales has arrived in Bacolod City from Cebu where he trained for some ten days in preparation for his title defense against former WBO minimum weight champion Donnie Nietes.
Garcia arrived along with his identical twin brother and former IBF minimumweight champiion Raul "Rayito" Garcia and his trainers.
The WBO world champion and his party arrived at the Silay City airport and were met by ALA Promotions Director for Marketing and Media Relations Chad Canares who was with ABS-CBN News crew that interviewed the Mexican champ.
When asked how he feels about fighting Nietes in his home town, Garcia, speaking through an interpreter said he is "ready and confident of winning his first title defense."
This will be the first time Bacolod City will get to experience a world boxing championship event.
An exciting supporting bout will be the WBO Asia Pacific bantamweight title fight between defending champion AJ "Bazooka" Banal and dangerous Mexican knockout artist Mario "Macas" Briones who is undefeated in 20 pro bouts.
Garcia Hirales sneaked into Cebu City unannounced last September 22 and immediately worked out in the same afternoon at the Omega Gym.
The defending champion who has a record of 16-2-1 with 9 knockouts was accompanied by his identical twin brother and former IBF minimum weight champion Raul “Rayito” Garcia who lost his title by a split decision to Moises Fuentes last August 27 in Jalisco, Mexico.
The decision of Garcia to arrive early to get acclimatized for his title defense against former WBO minimum weight champion Donnie “Ahas” Nietes (28-1-3, 16 KO’s) demonstrated his determination to retain his title and stop the successive triumphs of Nietes over Mexican challengers with three of his successful title defenses being held in Mexico.
Nietes who relinquished his title to move up in weight and chase a second world crown has expressed confidence he can achieve the feat when he faces Garcia Hirales at the University of St. La Salle gymnasium in Bacolod City on October 8.
Nietes told BoxingScene.com/Philboxing.com/Insidesports.ph after watching a DVD of the title fight between Garcia Hirales and Jesus Geles provided by this reporter that he could take the champion handily.
However, ALA Promotions president Michael Aldeguer said he had told Nietes “you cannot be overconfident” noting that Garcia Hirales had a solid left hook and that sometimes “you can’t see the punch coming.”
Nietes said he is ready, adding “I have prepared long and hard in the gym. I am excited and this is a dream come true for me to fight in front of my countrymen.”
Nietes had defended his WBO minimum weight title three times in Mexico and had longed for a chance to fight before a hometown crowd since he was born in Murcia which is some 16.5 kilometers from Bacolod City which is his residence.
Nietes was joined by Vice President Jejomar Binay and Murcia Mayor Andrew Montelibano last Sunday during training.
The Vice President joined the Mayor and Nietes in leading scores of supporters in a walk around the town plaza and later on worked out for some 30 minutes at the town’s basketball court.
Binay promised his full support to the title fight and Nietes’s dream of winning a second world title.
Garcia Hirales won the interim title with a twelve round decision over Filipino titleholder Johnreil Casinmero on July 24, 2010. In fact, promoter Sammy Gello-ani who handles Casimero informed us that he would be one of the sparring partners of the champion. Garcia successfully defended his title with a majority decision over Manuel Vargas before he lost the interim title to Jesus Geles in a controversial split decision.
Garcia Hirales won by a fourth round knockout in a rematch on April 30, 2011 to win the world title on the same night that he and his brother Raul made history when they because the first set of twin brothers to win world titles on the same fight card.