by Ronnie Nathanielsz
Both WBO light flyweight champion Donnie Nietes and minimumweight king Merlito "Tiger" Sabillo as well as challengers Sammy "Guty" Gutierrez of Mexico and unbeaten 21 year old Carlos Buitrago of Nicaragua looked ripped and ready for their epic battles at the faned Araneta Coliseum tonight.
In a possible record-setting feat all 18 fighters on the "Pinoy Pride XXIII" card of ALA Promotions and ABS-CBN tipped the scales at the maximum weight limit which in itself demonstrated how disciplined the fighters are and how ready they are for action in the biggest fight card at the Big Dome in years.
ALA Promotions president Michael Aldeguer assured BoxingScene.com/Manila Standard that the fighters are here "not just to fight but to win and thats what boxing is all about. The condition of the fighters says it all."
Aldeguer said "many people didn't realize what we went through emotionally with the super typhoon and the massive earthquake. This is what its all about. We rise again. As promoters we feel we have an obligation to the fighters and hopefully this fight card
will start it all. With this event boxing is back in the Philippines and hopefully it will make a statement that the world will realize we are here to stay and we'll rise again" following the spectacular comeback victories of Manny Pacquiao and Nonito "The Filipino
Nietes who has been recognized as one of the top 100 fighters in the world today will be making his first appearance in the main event at the famed Araneta Coliseum and will be up against the rugged Mexican Sammy "Guty"Gutierrez who has faced world champions in the past and has a 5th round TKO over Roilo Golez and a 7th round TKO over Renan Trongco and is determined to make another Filipino his victim.
Aldeguer told the Manila Standard that Nietes "wantsd to avenge the defeats of his countrymen and Donnie wants to prove a lot. He's been a champion f or six years but he still doesn't get the recognition that Manny Pacquiao, Nonito Donaire and Brian Viloria get. Right now is the time to show what he can do. He knows how to win but he hasd to bring that excitement back."
Aldeguer told the Manila Standard that Sabillo is an "exciting fighter that people want to see after they heard about him and now its a defining moment in his career and if he wins it will raise him to a new level and the start of a whole new career."
The ALA Promotions president said Sabillo is "so focused, nothing bothers him at all. We feel that he's a special fighter, he's an exciting fighter and can be a big star in the Philippines."
Aldeguer said the Sabillo-Buitrago showdown "is a fight the people want to see. Two undefeated champions going after each other. What more can you ask for?"
Buitrago is the Interim champion and said he is determined to take the title back to Nicaragua buoyed by the fact that there will be a live coverage beamed to his hometown but Sabillo promised "that will never happen."