DONNIE ‘Ahas’ Nietes hopes to reverse the fortunes of Filipino boxers as he stakes his World Boxing Organization (WBO) light-flyweight title against mandatory challenger Francisco Rodriguez of Mexico this Saturday at the Waterfront Cebu City Hotel and Casino.
Nietes’ seventh defense of the 108-lbs. belt comes at a time when Philippine boxing is reeling from one major setback after another, including ring icon Manny Pacquiao’s unanimous decision loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr. last May.
The defeat by the 36-year-old Pacquiao created a domino effect as Milan Melindo and former champion Johnriel Casimero bombed out in their respective world title bids.
Melindo failed in his bid to wrest the International Boxing Federation (IBF) light-flyweight title following a sixth round technical decision against Mexican Javier Mendoza in Baja, California, Mexico, while Casimero dropped a 12-round unanimous decision to Amnat Ruenroeng in Bangkok, Thailand for the IBF world flyweight crown.
Now Nietes (35-1-4, 21 KOs) is looking to change the trend.
The 33-year-old title holder, the longest reigning Filipino world champion of all time, has not been beaten the last 11 years, or since a split decision loss to Angky Angkotta in Jakarta, Indonesia in 2004.
The pride of Murcia, Negros Occidental has also stopped two of his last four opponents by knockout and is fresh from a ninth-round stoppage of Mexican Gilberto Parra in his latest title defense three months ago.
The match against Rodriguez, 22, is not going to be a walk in the park, though.
The native of Monterrey, Mexico is a former WBO minimumweight champion who stopped Filipino Merlito Sabillo to wrest the title last year.
He successfully defended the 105-lbs. crown with a 12-round unanimous over Katsunari Takayama before deciding to move up and challenge Nietes.
Rodriguez (17-2, 11 KOs) is coming off a unanimous decision over Filipino Jomar Fajardo early this year.