by Ronnie Nathanielsz
WBO Asia Pacific vice president Leon Panoncillo has turned down a request by WBO minimum weight champion Moises Fuentes to replace Filipino judge Danrex Tapdasan, on of three judges appointed to handle the Fuentes title fight against light flyweight champion Donnie “Ahas” Nietes for their clash at the Waterfront Hotel & Casino in Cebu on Saturday.
The two other judges are Americans Adelaide Byrd and Pat Russel with another American Jack Reiss as referee.
The request to replace Tapdasan was made at a well-attended press conference at the Waterfront Thursday at which the manager of Fuentes, Jorge Barrera, brother of Mexican legend Marco Anntonio Barrera referred to what he saw as “a close fight” between Nietes in the WBO light flyweight title fight against Ramon Garcia Hirales on October 8, 2011 in Bacolod City but which the Filipino won by a twelve round unanimous decision..
However, in that fight Tapdasan had Nietes winning by the smallest margin of 115-113 while judges Carlos Ortiz had Nietes ahead 117-111and Lisa Giampa by an even wider 118-110 margin.
Panoncillo said the fight officials were appointed by WBO president Francisco “Paco” Valcarcel and was based on “honesty and integrity.”
Panoncillo remarked that Tapdasan was “not desperate for a hometown decision” and warned said that as WBO official supervisor of the fight “if I see a judge is not fair and judge what he sees, I’ll judge what I see and if a judge doesn’t act fairly and honestly, it will be his last job” as a fight official.
In response to Panoncillo’s assurance Jorge Barrera, the manager of Fuentes said he hopes the WBO fight supervisor’s instructions “will all be followed.”
Fuentes said the fght will be won “by the more intelligent fighter” as he predicted “a tougher fight” than his clash with Ivan Calderon whom he beat by a 5th round TKO in his last fight.
Reacting to Fuentes boast that he would knock him out, Nietes said “if he doesn’t knock me down, I will knock him out.”
Fuentes paid tribute to Nietes as a “legend” which provided “the motivation to win and be the best” stressing that he accepted the challenge to face Nietes in his hometown because “to be the best, you have to beat the best.”
But in this historic first battle between two world champions after junior lightweight champion after Gabriel “Flash” Elorde lost by a 14th round TKO to lightweight champion Carlos Ortiz in Manila in 1964, a confident Nietes claimed he is in “much better condition than ever before” and vowed “to kick his ass” in reference to Fuentes.
The fights will be telecast “live” in Mexico and over ABS-CBN Channel 2 at 10:15 a.m. on Sunday with “live” coverage over The Filipino Channel which is widely watched especially in the Middle East and also over Studio 23 and the cable channel Balls.