By Cliff Rold
Call him the anti-Manny. If one Manny Pacquiao is the most famous Filipino boxing champion in the world, former 105 lb. beltholder Donnie Nietes might be the least. That can change, but he has to keep winning. On Saturday, he can add his second alphabet crown in as many divisions.
It’s not quite Manny’s eight, but two isn’t easy either. The man who has that belt will have something to say about losing it. Ramon Garcia, brother of 105 lb. titlist Raul Garcia, is hitting the road for the latest chapter in this generation’s exciting Mexico-Philippines rivalry.
Let’s go the report card.
Titles: WBO Jr. Flyweight (2011-Present, 1st Attempted Defense)
Previous Titles: None
Average Weight – Last Five Fights: 107.75 lbs.
Hails from: La Paz, Mexico
Record: 16-2-1, 9 KO
BoxingScene Rank: #7 at Jr. Flyweight
Record in Major Title Fights: 1-0, 1 KO (4-1, 1 KO including interim title fights)
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Defeated: 1 (Jesus Geles)
Previous Titles: WBO Strawweight (2007-10, 4 Defenses
Average Weight – Last Five Fights: 106.1 lbs.
Hails from: Bacolod City, Philippines
Record: 28-1-3, 16 KO
BoxingScene Rank: #10 at Jr. Flyweight
Record in Major Title Fights: 5-0, 1 KO
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Defeated: 1 (Pornsawan Porpramook)
Pre-Fight: Speed – Garcia B; Nietes B
Pre-Fight: Power – Garcia B; Nietes B
Pre-Fight: Defense – Garcia B-; Nietes B-
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Garcia B+; Nietes B
This is the best fight of the week, errantly overlooked in this author’s weekly “Picks of the Week” and made up for with this short preview. The fight is worth the extra coverage. While not one looming large on the radar of most fight fans, Garcia and Nietes match up well.
They are about equal in height, pop, and neither has ever been stopped. Garcia showed a lot earlier this year, bouncing back from a questionable decision loss to Jesus Geles with a commanding knockout. Nietes, overlooked despite his title reign at 105 lbs., can point to a Porpramook win, for his previous belt, as evidence of his quality.
Garcia throws straighter shots and will pressure in this contest while Nietes is likely to box more and attempt to land big rights over the top and as an educated, snappy uppercut. Neither man has faced a deoth of tough talent, with a common opponent in Manuel Vargas. Both narrowly skated by on the cards, Nietes by split nod on the road in Mexico and Garcia by majority verdict.
Home field has to count for something here. Garcia is coming not just to the Philippines, but also to the hometown of Nietes. In an evenly matched fight, local fever could make the difference in close rounds. The pick is Nietes on a close, potentially debated decision.
Report Card Picks 2011: 32-12
Cliff Rold is a member of the Ring Magazine Ratings Advisory Panel, the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel, and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]il.com