OTHER than defending his World Boxing Organization (WBO) junior flyweight title, Donnie ‘Ahas’ Nietes has one other motivation when he goes up against Francisco Rodriguez of Mexico in their 12-round showdown at the Waterfront Cebu City Hotel and Casino a month from now.
Settle a score for ALA boxing stablemate Merlito Sabillo.
The 33-year-old Nietes will be fighting the same man who stripped Sabillo of his WBO minimumweight crown in April of last year following a 10th-round technical knockout in Monterrey, Mexico.
With a chance to avenge Sabillo’s first career loss, the longest reigning Filipino world champion ever vowed not to miss the opportunity.
“Gusto kong ibawi 'yung pagkatalo ng kaibigan ko (Merlito Sabillo),” said Nietes during the press conference held on Friday at Gerry’s Grill for the July 4 fight where the Filipino (35-1-4, 21 KOs) will try to defend his 108-lbs. title belt for the seventh straight time in the main bout of the 31st edition of the popular boxing series Pinoy Pride.
Both Nietes and Sabillo are from Bacolod, Negros Occidental.
As per Sabillo’s advice, Nietes said the 21-year-old Rodriguez doesn’t have power in his punches although he throws them in bunches.
“Sabi ni Merlito hindi naman siya malakas, marami lang sumuntok. Kaya tingin ko kaya,” said Nietes, who is coming off an impressive ninth-round technical decision over Gilberto Parra at the Smart Araneta Coliseum last March.
The champion added it would be to his advantage if Rodriguez (17-2-1, 11 KOs) tries to go toe-to-toe against him in the center of the ring.
“Pag sumabay siya sa akin at tinamaan ng overhand right ko, sigurado titiklop,” said a smiling Nietes.
Following his victory over Sabillo, Rodriguez unified the WBO and International Boxing Federation (IBF) 105-lbs. title belts with a convincing unanimous decision over Katzunari Takayama.
But he struggled in his last two bouts against Filipino Jomar Fajardo, who forced him to a draw in their first meeting in Cebu last November, before bouncing back with a unanimous 10-round decision in January of this year.
“Mayabang lang 'yun (Rodriguez). Pero tingnan natin ang yabang niya sa loob ng ring,” said Nietes.
Fighting in the main undercard of the eight-bout presentation made possible by ALA Promotions and ABS-CBN Sports is undefeated junior featherweight Mark ‘Magnifico’ Sayo (10-0, 10 KOs), who will be up against Mexican Rafael Tefa.
In a special six-round attraction, former amateur standout Kevin Jake Cataraja makes his professional debut against Indonesian Ardi Tefa.
Catajara was a former PLDT ABAP National Open gold medalist and many-time gold medal winner in the PRISAA National Collegiate Games, where he was voted as Best Boxer during its recent edition held in Iloilo City.