By Jake Donovan
While Donnie Nietes is bound to a mandatory title defense versus Moises Fuentes, there have been talks of possibly first taking on a voluntary defense. Representatives for the junior flyweight titlist have claimed that former strawweight champ Raul Garcia is among the list of candidates.
The suggestion is compelling, given that Nietes outpointed Raul’s twin brother Ramon to win the junior flyweight title in 2011, having since successfully defended eight times.
Moving past the ‘brother’s keeper’ angle, there are several concerns regarding the aforementioned matchup. Chief among them is the fact that Garcia’s team has yet to be properly contacted.
“We read plans for Nietes to face our fighter, Raul Garcia. We vehemently deny this to be true,” Promociones del Pueblo’s Oswaldo Kuchle informed BoxingScene.com on Monday.
Raul and his twin brother Ramon – a former junior flyweight titlist – are both under contract with Promociones del Pueblo through 2017, which makes any such fight discussion a legal matter.
Aside from that are a number of red flags that raise the question of whether such a bout would even be sanctioned by the World Boxing Organization (WBO), whom recognizes Nietes as its junior flyweight champ. Garcia (36-3-1, 22KOs) – a former two-time strawweight titlist – hasn’t fought since Nov. ’14 and is unranked by any sanctioning body, including the WBO.
His last fight sanctioned by any alphabet organization came in March ’13, dropping a 12-round split decision to Pedro Guevara in their junior flyweight title eliminator. He has since won three bouts versus pedestrian opposition, including a 10-round decision over Andres Garcia (no relation) in Nov. ’14, before sitting out all of 2015.
Nietes has enjoyed title reigns at strawweight and junior flyweight dating back to 2007. He earned the vacant WBO strawweight title in Sept. ’07 with a 12-round win over Pornsawan Porpramook, making four successful defenses before moving up in weight in 2010.
Garcia – having previously held the International Boxing Federation (IBF) strawweight title – picked up the vacant WBO strap upon Nietes’ departure from the division in Oct. ‘10, outpointing Luis de la Rosa on the road in Colombia. His reign lasted just under one year before losing the title in Aug. ’11 in dropping a 12-round split decision to Fuentes, who has since drew with and was knocked out by Nietes in two previous bouts.
Fuentes boxed his way back into contention, earning a third fight with Nietes with a 12-round decision win over former strawweight titlist Francisco Rodriguez Jr. in their final eliminator las December. His team alleges to being fine with the defending champ taking a voluntary defense before moving towards his mandatory title challenge, which could land in the United States.
While that may be the case, Garcia’s team is not at all okay with their fighter getting next in line without proper permission.
“If necessary, we will reach out to our attorneys if this matter continues,” Kuchle promises.
Jake Donovan is the managing editor of BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox