BACOLOD CITY – Donnie ‘Ahas’ Nietes successfully retained his World Boxing Organization (WBO)light-flyweight title Saturday night after scoring a technical knockout win over Raul Garcia of Mexico before a jampacked crowd at the La Salle Coliseum here.
The champion knocked the Mexican challenger down twice in the third round with crashing shots to the body that set the tone for the 12-round championship match.
The beating could have taken its toll on Garcia that he failed to answer the bell for the sixth round, giving the pride of Murcia, Negros Occidental an automatic TKO win to the delight of his provincemates led by newly-elect Bacolod City mayor Bing Leonardia.
"Talagang expect ko ang panalo dahil pinag-aralan ko kung paano siya pasukin," said Nietes afterwards. "Naghintay lang ako ng timing para ma-kockout ko siya."
It was the ninth successful title defense for the 33-year-old Nietes, who improved to 38-1-4 with 22 KOs.
Garcia had his moments against the champion, but Nietes was simply a cut above him, hurting the Mexican several times with right straights and body hooks.
A two-time world champion at minimumweight, Garcia is now 36-4-1 (22KOs) as he failed to avenge the loss of his twin brother, Ramon, against Nietes during their 2011 fight for the same WBO title belt.
Nietes, 33, thinks Raul's brother was the better fighter between the two.
"Mas awkward tsaka mas malakas yung kapatid niya sa kanya," the longest reigning Filipino world champion said afterwards.
The undercard between Arthur Villanueva and Juan Jimenez stole some thunder from the main event after the pride of Bago City here knocked out the lanky Mexican in the fourth round of their WBO Asia Pacific bantamweight fight following a strong clash of heads.
Jimenez went down hard after sustaining the headbutt and was counted out by referee Dan Nietes with just 21 seconds gone by in the round. The Mexican laid on the canvas for several minutes and had to be administered with oxygen mask before he finally got back his full bearing.
The bizarre ending came after both fighters scored separate knockdowns earlier in the bout, set for 12 rounds.
Villanueva was the first to go down as he was on the receiving end of a barrage of Jimenez punches in the second round.
But the former world title contender was quick to atone for the blunder by sending the Mexican to the floor in the third round with a solid right straight to the head.
A rematch is expected to be on the works between Villanueva (29-1, 15 KOs) and Jimenez (22-10, 15 KOs).
Meanwhile, a sluggish Milan Melindo was still good enough to hack out a technical unanimous decision over Maximino Flores of Mexico in the other co-main undercard.
The native of Cagayan de Oro City won it by scores of 69-64, 68-65, 67-66. The fight was stopped in the seventh round after Melindo suffered a huge cut on his left eyebrow caused by a headbutt.
Both fighters wore 10 ounce gloves after Melindo came four lbs. overweight for the agreed 110 lbs. catch-weight.
In other results, Kevin Jake Cataraja sustained his unbeaten mark with a fourth round knockout of Chatchai Or Benjamas of Thailand, Jonas ‘Zorro’ Sultan scored a fifth round TKO win over Rommel Oliveros, Raul Yu TKOd Robert Ates in only two rounds, Kenneth Gentallan emerged a unanimous decision winner over Lenmar Prescillas, and Reymund Rama eked out a split decision against Gerard Suico.