FEARSOME as Roman Gonzales may be, the team of Donnie Nietes has long held the notion the Nicaraguan warrior is always beatable.
And Srisaket Sor Rungvisai proved them right after scoring a stunning majority decision against Gonzales to wrest the World Boxing Council (WBC) super-flyweight title last week at the Madison Square Garden in New York City.
It was the first career loss for Gonzales, who fell to a 46-1 record with 38 KOs and lost his claim as the best fighter in the world, pound-for-pound.
Longtime Nietes trainer Edito ‘Ala’ Villamor said there was never any doubt the 34-year-old Filipino pride from Murcia, Negros Occidental can take on Gonzales head-on, one reason why he moved up to flyweight in his bid to challenge the Nicaraguan, as well as Mexican Juan Francisco Estrada.
Unfortunately for him, both Gonzales and Estrada also opted to move up in weight.
“Yes kaya (ni Donnie),” Villamor related to SPIN.ph. “Kaya nga siya umakyat ng timbang para diyan.”
Rungvisai won over Gonzales by scores of 113-113, 114-112, 114-112, a decision that was met by jeers inside the so-called ‘Mecca of Boxing.’
Villamor admitted he didn’t get to watch the Gonzales-Rungvisai match in its entirety, but credited the Thai fighter for not backing down against the Nicaraguan, who went down right in the opening round courtesy of a body shot and ended up a bloody mess after suffering a cut on his right eye following an accidental head-butt in the third round.
“I think naunahan nila (si Gonzales),” he said. “At tsaka sa mga rounds na napanood ko, laban din yung Thai.”
Evetually, he sees Nietes getting his hands on Gonzales, hopefully by the end of the year or early part of 2018.
“Yes, darating ang opportunity nilang dalawa,” said the lead trainer of Cebu-based ALA boxing gym. “Mag-rematch pa kasi sila (Gonzales and Rungvisai),”
For his part, Nietes is in the midst of preparations as he bids for the International Boxing Federation (IBF) flyweight crown against Komgrich Nantapech of Thailand on April 29 at the Waterfront Hotel in Cebu City.
The longest reigning Filipino world champion on record (39-1-4, 22 KOs) is hoping to claim a third world title after previously reigning as International Boxing Federation (IBF) minimumweight and light-flyweight champion.
Nietes vows to beat Nantapech (22-3-0, 15 KOs) and become world champion again.
“I’m 100 percent sure that I will win this fight,” said Nietes during the official launch of the title match that serves as the main event of Pinoy Pride 40.
Nietes, 34, last fought in September 2016 when he scored a unanimous 12-round decision against former world champion Edgar Sosa at the StubHub Center in Carson, California. It was also the first fight of the Filipino as a flyweight.