Norbelto ‘Meneito’ Jimenez hasn’t won a fight in nearly two years, but has a better shot than any other contender in claiming a victory within the next month.
The two-time junior bantamweight title challenger will land atop a show being planned for May 30 at an unspecified location in his birthtown of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Jimenez (29-9-5, 16KOs) will face countryman Eleizer ‘El Campeoncito’ Aquino (21-4-1, 14KOs) in a 10-round rematch to their May 2013 clash which ended in a technical draw.
Plans for the show were revealed by Shuan Boxing Promotions, who will present the closed-doors event pending approval from local authorities who will need to confirm that all health and safety precautions are met. The card is among the first to take place since the current coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic which has all but shut down the sport since March 14.
“We have to take into account that the show will take place with all native (fighters), so we have to try to put on a first class even with boxers within (the Dominican Republic),” Belgica Peña, head of Shuan Boxing Promotions explains in the steps taken to proceed with the event. “I have no doubt that the fight between ‘Meneito’ and ‘El Campeoncito’ is one of the best fights and matchups that can be presented right now.
“Both boxers have international experience, plus years after their first fight there is still debate as to who deserved to win.”
The aforementioned draw was part of a 30-fight unbeaten streak for Jimenez, who enjoyed one of the greatest career turnarounds in recent history. The 29-year old stumbled out to a miserable 2-8-1 start through his first 11 fights before going another eight years without a loss. The hard-luck Dominican junior bantamweight managed three draws over that stretch, including the truncated clash with Aquino and a hard-fought 12-round stalemate with then 115-pound titlist Kohei Kono on New Year’s Eve 2014.
Nine wins followed his first title challenge before getting another bid at alphabet glory. Jimenez came up short, dropping a 12-round decision to then-unbeaten titlist Kal Yafai last June though busting up the Brit to the point of giving him a perforated eardrum among other facial wounds.
Interestingly, Jimenez remains among a small handful of title-level boxers to have managed a fight in 2020. It didn’t go quite as planned, as he fought to a 10-round draw with unbeaten Aliu Bamidele Lasisi this past March in Dubai.
Aquino’s career hasn’t quite flourished since his meeting with Jimenez, at which point he was still unbeaten. The 13-year ring veteran—who turns 33 in June—is just 7-4 since that night, including a 7th round knockout at the hands of Puerto Rico’s Emmanuel Rodriguez, who was unbeaten at the time of their November 2015 clash and would go on to win a bantamweight title.
Unlike Jimenez, though, Aquino will enter the rematch on the heels of a win, having scored a 3rd round stoppage of Jorge Barreto last November in Santo Domingo.
The rest of the show is still being put together, with full details—including the exact location and any potential television or streaming service—still to come.
For now, it’s a matter of moving forward with plans that were in place prior to the current global health crisis. The show will serve as the first to take place in Dominican Republic since February 22.
“Both fighters have signed their respective contracts,” Peña notes. “The fight is done… and will [take place[ with every precaution and protocol followed in accordance with the Ministry of Public Health and Ministry of Sports. On top of that, we have already spoken with said parties who view this event as a very good opportunity.”
All participants will be required to submit to health screenings and will be quarantined prior to fight night. Dominican Republic has remained under strict curfew since March 19, with the order extended through mid-May. The Caribbean nation—which has contracted 8,480 positive COVID-19 cases as of Tuesday—has also announced the postponement of its presidential election, which has been pushed back from May 17 to July 5.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox