CEBU CITY – Even though they have yet to enter the ring, Donnie Nietes is well aware he has already scored one over Francisco Rodriguez.
The Filipino champion watched the Mexican challenger struggle to make the weight just 24 hours before they clash for the World Boxing Organization (WBO) light-flyweight title at the Waterfront Cebu City Hotel and Casino.
The 21-year-old Rodriguez came a pound over the 108-lbs.limit in his first attempt during Friday’s official weigh-in at SM City Cebu here. He had to strip naked on his second try to finally meet the limit.
Nietes, looking slim and in fine form, had a wide grin on his face upon seeing the young challenger barely make the weight.
“Sa tingin ko wala sa kundisyon,” said the 33-year-old reigning title holder, who was right on target after coming in at exactly 108 lbs.
“Ako nga kaya ko pang mag-105 (minimumweight),” added the main attraction of Pinoy Pride XXXI.
After partaking a bowl arrozcaldo for lunch, Nietes said he expects to enter the ring Saturday between 117 and 118 lbs when he tries to extend what is already the longest reign by a Filipino world champion against Rodriguez, whose perceived cockiness the pride of Murcia, Negros Occidental believes is only for show.
“Nagyayabang-yabangan lang ‘yun,” said Nietes of the Mexican, a former WBO and International Boxing Federation (IBF) minimumweight champion (17-2-1, with 11 KOs).
Unbeaten since 2004, Nietes’ record stands at 35-1-4, with 21 KOs and is coming off a ninth-round stoppage of Gilberto Parra last March.
Now the lone Filipino world champion, Nietes was honored by WBO president Paco Varcael with a diamond encrusted ring shortly after the weigh-in for his exemplary exploits inside the ring.
Nietes joins an illustrious list of champions honored by the boxing organization such as Oscar Dela Hoya, Marco Antonio Barrera, and Juan Manuel Marquez, and just the second Filipino to be recognized after the legendary Manny Pacquiao.
Fighting in the main undercard of the offering presented by ALA Promotions and ABS-CBN Sports is promising featherweight Mark Magsayo (10-0, 8 KOs).