PHILIPPINE boxing was not lacking in heroes on the day the nation celebrated the 150th birthday of Andres Bonifacio.
Donnie `Ahas’ Nietes defended his World Boxing Organization light-flyweight crown with a sensational third round knockout of Mexican Sammy Gutierrez to the delight of a sizeable crowd at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum Saturday night.
The champion had the challenger all sized up right in the opening round when the Filipino sent him down to the canvas twice, each of them courtesy of his solid right hand.
They Said It!
“Tingin ko first round pa lang kaya ko na siya." - Donnie "Ahas" Nietes on Mexican Sammy Gutierrez
Gutierrez, fighting with Mexican pride, survived the next round, but was knocked down again in the third when a devastating Nietes right perfectly found its target.
The challenger,a former two-time world champion like Nietes, tried to get up on wobbly legs, but referee Celestino Ruiz wisely put a stop to the carnage.
The end came at the 2:58 mark.
“Tingin ko first round pa lang kaya ko na siya,” said Nietes, who improved to 32-1-4, with 18 KOs. “Kala ko nga hindi na tatayo, e.”
He later offered his victory to victims and families affected by super-typhoon Yolanda.
"Sa nangyari sa Tacloban, makakabangon tayo," the champion said.
Gutierrez, the former WBO minimumweight title holder, fell to 33-10, with 23 KOs.
Nietes' impressive win came just right after Merlito Sabillo had to settle for a split draw against Carlos Buitrago to retain his WBO minimumweight title.
The 29-year-old champion started rather tentative against the Nicaraguan challenger and didn’t really get into the rhythm until the later rounds of the scheduled 12-round fight.
Still, the 20-year-old Buitrago appeared to have controlled majority of the bout that his corner began celebrating when the final bell rang by carrying a small Nicaraguan flag atop the ring.
It wasn’t meant to be.
Judge Levi Martinez saw the fight 115-113 for Buitrago, Joerg Milke had it 115-113 for Sabillo, and Takeshi Shimakawa scored it even at 114-114 for the split draw.
Sabillo, who wobbled in Round 9 following a solid right hook by the challenger, preserved his unbeaten record at 23-0-1, with 12 KOs as he kept his 105-lbs crown for the second straight time.
The young Nicaraguan, rated no.1 by the WBO, fell to 27-0-1, with 16 KOs.
Earlier, Milan Melindo staged a successful ring comeback by hacking out a unanimous decision over tough Jose Alfredo Rodriguez of Mexico over 12 rounds.
Melindo won it by scores of 118-110, 118-109, 119-109, as he won his first fight since his a failed bid to wrest the WBO flyweight crown against Juan Francisco Estrada last July at the Cotai Arena in Macau.
The pride of Cagayan de Oro City sported a cut on the bridge of his noise and another one just below his left eye, but improved to 30-1 (12 KOs) following the win.
Fellow ALA boxing stablemates Jason Pagara and AJ Banal were also stretched to the limit, but carved out hard-earned victories as well.
Pagara dominated Vladimir Baez of Dominican Republic in a 10-round light-welterweight clash, while Banal endured a 10-round bantamweight bout against Lucian Gonzales of Puerto Rico.
Former world title contender Jimrex Jaca set off the pace for Filipino fighters with a first round knockout of Indonesian Wellem Reyk.
Time of stoppage was at the 2:24 mark.