A double world championship featuring title holders Donnie `Ahas’ Nietes and Merlito Sabillo headline the 23rd edition of the Pinoy Pride set on November 30 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The 29-year-old Sabillo stakes his World Boxing Organization (WBO) minimumweight crown against Carlos Buitrago of Nicaragua in a mandatory defense, while Nietes still has no opponent yet although ALA Boxing Promotions is eyeing Gabriel Mendoza of Colombia as he defends his WBO light-flyweight crown.
Both Nietes and Sabillo are coming off successful title defenses in Cebu and at the Solaire Hotel respectively, this year.
“This is the biggest event and biggest budgeted fight card ALA Promotions will have as it will feature no less than two world championship fights,” announced ALA Boxing vice president Dennis Canete during the formal launching of the boxing card dubbed `Filipinos Kontra Latinos’ on Tuesday at Shakey’s Malate.
“We prepared for this to show the world the Philippines can hold a mega-fight of this magnitude at no less than the historic Araneta Coliseum where the classic `Thrilla in Manila’ was held and the great Gabriel `Flash’ Elorde won his world title.”
It will be the first double world championship to be held at the Big Dome since Nonito Donaire Jr. and Brian Villoria fought in the same fight card in 2009.
Nietes and Sabillo brought their respective title belts and joined Nietes in the presidential table together with ALA Boxing fighters Milan Melindo, AJ `Bazooka’ Banal, Jason Pagara, and trainer Edmund Villamor.
The 31-year-old Nietes retained his WBO title with a majority 12-round decision over Moises Fuentes last March in Cebu City, raising his record to 31-1 with 17 KOs, while Sabillo (23-0, 12 KOs) scored a ninth-round knockout of Jorle Estrada three months ago to keep his WBO 105-lb crown.
Both Nietes and Sabillo have begun training for their respective title fights.
“Lahat naman ng boxers kapag may laban excited siyempre,” said Sabillo. “Right now, start na kami ng training.”
Melindo, Banal, and Pagara have no opponents lined up yet, although Canete said he expects the official names to come in by next week.
This will be Melindo’s comeback fight after a failed title bid against WBO-World Boxing Association champion Francisco Estrada following a 12-round decision.
“Tanggap ko rin naman `yung pagkatalo ko, at marami akong natutunan doon,” said Melindo. “Isa ito sa mga challenges ko sa pagbabalik sa ring.”