by Ronnie Nathanielsz
Donnie Nietes, the longest reigning Filipino world champion kept his conquest of Mexicans going with a scintillating performance against former two-division world champion Raul “Rayito” Garcia from whose identical twin brother Raul Garcia Hirales, Nietes won the WBO light flyweight title at the St. La Salle Coliseum in Bacolod City on October 8, 2011.
While the first fight saw an excited and nervous Nietes who claimed he couldn’t sleep before that title fight struggle to win although it ended in lopsided fashion, the clash against Garcia’s identical twin brother, southpaw “Rayito” Garcia , saw Nietes put on a dominating performance in which he dropped the Mexican twice in round three and forced him to quit on his stool before the start of round six a victim of Nietes’ vicious blows to the body throughout.
The opening stanza was a feeling out round for Nietes who was able to sneak in a couple of probing good body shots before continuing in round two but lulling Garcia into a false sense of security before switching to the head.
A perennial slow starter Nietes appeared to be biding his time in round two before a good left by Rayito prompted Nietes to answer with a solid right straight, the obvious counter to a southpaw.
A great right straight by Donnie was followed by another before the Mexican, a two division world champion connected with a solid left which was promptly countered by Nietes with a left of his own.
In round three as often happens when an orthodox fighter faces a southpaw, Rayito Gracia stepped on the foot of Nietes who couldn’t move. But after wiggling out of the fix, Nietes landed a cracking right straight while Garcia countered with a left to the mid-section.
Picking up the tempo and cheered on by the sell-out crowd mainly of hometown fans, Nietes landed a big right hand followed by a right hook that hurt Garcia and then hammered him with a thundering left hook that dropped Garcia for the first time in his career.
Chicago referee Celestino Ruiz appeared to spend too much time asking Garcia whether he was okay which gave the Mexican time to recover but as the referee signaled them to continue, Nietes ripped Gracia with another classic right straight that dropped the challenger for the second time giving Nietes an automatic 10-7 round .
Garcia glanced at his corner before being saved by the bell.
Nietes kept the pressure on Garcia but didn’t charge in recklessly while it became clear that the end was near for Garcia who wilted under the wicked body shots of Nietes and the left hook that he had perfected in training under the watchful eye of veteran mentor Edmund Villamor.
The 34 year old Nietes who entered the ring with his pet python around his neck, systematically strangled Garcia to register his tenth successful defense of the 108 pound belt and upped his unbeaten record against Mexicans fighters to 15-0 with one draw against Moises Fuentes who is his mandatory challenger one more time despite being dropped three times in their last meeting at the Mall of Asia Arena when Nietes won by a 9th round knockout on May 10, 2014.
They are scheduled to face off for the third time at the StubHub Center in Carson City, California on September 24.
The smashing victory of Nietes was a superb way to end one of the best fight cards in years and all credit must go to ALA Promotions president Michael Aldeguer and the giant broadcast network ABS-CBN which telecast the fights on Sky Cable pay per view and on the widely watched TFC, the Filipino Channel especially in the middle-east.
The only regrettable incident in an otherwise fantastic card was referee Dan Nietes’ ruling a 4th round knockout by King Arthur Villanueva over Mexico’s hard-hitting Juan Ignacio Jimenez when Jimenez was felled by a vicious clash of heads which sent the Mexican flat on his back on the canvas.
Jimenez was out cold and lay motionless for several minutes while doctors attended to him feverishly and helped him recover with an oxygen mask over his nose and mouth.
Nietes attempted to justify his terrible decision when he announced a knockout at 21 seconds of the 4th round which the Mexicans rightfully protested.
ALA boxing patriarch Tony Aldeguer agreed with colleague Atty. Ed Tolentino and myself who did coverage over Channel 2 that they should offer Jimenez a rematch whenever he is ready because that is the right thing to do.
In another slambang battle former two-time world title challenger Milan Melindo was bloodied in a waterfront brawl by Mexican Maximino “Max” Flores who charged in from the opening bell and never seemed to stop punching in a battle for the vacant WBO Asia-Pacific bantamweight title.
While Flores threw more pitter-patter punches Melindo connected with the more accurate and crisper punches and a series of well-timed counters.
There were occasions when there was a clash of heads which opened up a nasty cut over the bridge of Melindo’s nose in round four before a nasty head-butt opened up a deep gash over his left eyebrow in round seven forcing referee Ver Abainza to call off the bout after the ring doctor correctly ruled Melindo unfit to continue.
All three judges had Melindo the winner with scores of 69-64, 68-65 and 67-66.
rthur Villanueva (29-1, 15 KOs) had to get off the floor in the second round and survived a real shaky start to score a knockdown of his own in the third, with a controversial ending when there was a bad clash of heads that knocked out Juan Jimenez (22-10, 15 KOs).