By Ronnie Nathanielsz

WBO minimumweight champion Donnie Nietes faces tough Mexican Manuel Vargas, the Interim champion,  in the Filipino’s third title defense set for July 18 in Jalisco, Mexico.

The 27 year old Nietes leaves for Los Angeles on Saturday along with AJ “Bazooka” Banal to continue training at the Wild Card gym of Freddie Roach in preparation for the crucial showdown against a reportedly rugged opponent.

Nietes has a record of 24-1-3 with 14 knockouts and is coming off a twelve round unanimous decision over Erik Ramirez last February 28, 2009 in Mexico . Prior to that in his first title defense Nietes scored a 2nd round knockout over Eddy Castro on August 30, 2008 at the Waterfront Hotel in Cebu City .

Nietes is expected to have his hands full against the rugged Vargas who engaged Rayonata “The Stingray” Whitfield (21-0, 10 KO’s) in a war before losing a twelve round majority decision in a WBO flyweight title eliminator on April9, 2008.

During their furious battle, Vargas bombarded Whitfield with punishing blows to the head and body and in the final round threw punches from every angle in an effort to score a knockout. But he failed and Whitfield won in a close fight.

In his last two fights Vargas won by a 4th round knockout over Daniel Reyes on December 6, 2008 in a WBO minimum weight interim title bout and successfully defended the interim title with a unanimous twelve round decision over Walter Tello last February 14, 2009.

Nietes, as always, has trained hard at the famed ALA Gym in Cebu in preparation for his title defense against Vargas.