Donnie Nietes is confident he’d beat ‘pound-for-pound’ king Gonzalez
MANILA, Philippines - Donnie Nietes will be making his American debut this weekend in California, but he’s got a personal interest in another fight happening in New York the same night.
The WBO/Ring magazine junior flyweight champion from Murcia, Negros Occidental, Philippines will face Juan Alejo this Saturday, October 17 (Sunday in Manila) at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif., headlining ALA Promotions’ Pinoy Pride 33 card.
On the other side of the country, Roman Gonzalez, rated no. 1 by The Ring pound-for-pound, faces Filipino-American Brian Viloria for the flyweight championship at Madison Square Garden.
Nietes, when asked about how he thinks he’d do in a fight against the unbeaten Nicaraguan Gonzalez, says the fight would be a “dream” match for him.
“Yes I can beat him,” the 33-year-old Nietes (36-1-4, 21 knockouts) tells Rappler from Los Angeles, where he is finishing up preparations to face Alejo (21-3, 13 KOs). “If that fight will come my way I will train double and study the way he fights.”
“But the decision will always come first from my manager,” Nietes said about future opposition. “I just want for the time to come and I am ready.”
Gonzalez (43-0, 37 KOs) assumed the top spot in The Ring’s list after Floyd Mayweather Jr. announced his retirement in September. A 3-division champion, Gonzalez once fought on the same card as Nietes in Mexico in 2010. Nietes retained his WBO version of the 105 pound title against Erik Ramirez while Gonzalez won a majority decision against Francisco Rosas to remain as WBA 105 pound titleholder.
Michael Aldeguer, who promotes Nietes under ALA Promotions, feels Gonzalez’s newest distinction brings prestige and interest to the sport’s smallest divisions.
“Roman Gonzalez being the number one pound for pound has changed the whole landscape of boxing,” said Aldeguer. “This is where Nietes is gonna be, the timing is just great.”
Gonzalez, known as Chocolatito, must first get past Viloria, which is no sure thing. Viloria (36-4, 22 KOs) is a former junior flyweight and flyweight titleholder who has been one of the biggest punchers of the lower weight classes since turning pro after competing at the 2000 Olympics.
Nietes and Viloria sparred together twice at the Wild Card Gym to prepare for their respective bouts.
“They’re two great fighters, it’s something you’re proud to see, two Filipinos working together,” said Aldeguer.
“Viloria is not only my fellow countryman but I’ve see him train and he is in his full condition,” said Nietes, who is the Philippines' lone reigning world champion. “He can bring pride and honor to our country.”
While Nietes holds wins over top fighters Francisco Rodriguez Jr. and Moises Fuentes, the relatively unknown Alejo from Guadalupe, Mexico who has yet to face a known contender. Alejo has won 21 straight since losing his first 3 fights but hasn’t yet fought outside of his home country.
“I’ve seen [Alejo’s] videos. He’s a great fighter, a strong opponent and that is the biggest challenge: not to give full confidence but to be smart enough inside the ring,” said Nietes.
Aside from Nietes, Filipino prospects Mark Magsayo, Jason Pagara and Albert Pagara will also be in action.
For now, Nietes remains focused on his opponent at hand. He knows he only gets one opportunity to make a first impression in America.
“It is important because I can show my talent not only in my homeland but for all the people here in the U.S.,” said Nietes. “This fight will open the door for bigger fights in the future.” – Rappler.com