World Boxing Organization (WBO) Light Flyweight king Donnie “Ahas” Nietes (37-1-4, 21 knockouts) hasn’t tasted defeat since 2004. And being a world titleholder since 2007, he’s now the longest reigning Filipino world champion ever. He’s also the only Pinoy fighter who currently owns a world title after Manny Pacquiao lost his WBO Welterweight title to Floyd Mayweather Jr. last May.
Last October 18, after extending his incredible winning streak at the StubHub Center in Carson, California by easily outpointing overmatched challenger Juan Alejo, Donnie expressed his desire to fight ESPN, Ring Magazine, and Yahoo! Sport’s top pound-for-pound fighter Roman "Chocolatito" Gonzalez (44-0, 38 knockouts). Yes, brothers, the proud Pinoy champ is eyeing boxing’s current King of the Hill. Mad props for that, Donnie.
Incidentally, the celebrated P4P champ and WBC Flyweight champion from Nicaragua also pulled off a convincing win in the same day as he stopped our boy Brian Viloria via a ninth round stoppage at New York’s fabled Madison Square Garden.
Given the fortuitous events that unfolded, plus the fact that Donnie and Chocolatito are the two most dominant little men in boxing, it makes a lot of sense why the two pint-sized dynamos should duke it out.
Nietes had long expressed his desire to move up to the 112-pound flyweight division and test his mettle against the Nicaraguan champion. According to RingTV.com, Nietes’s promoter, Michael Aldeguer of ALA Boxing Promotions, had told them that he indeed spoke to Gonzalez' camp about the possibility of making the biggest fight on boxing’s lighter division. Aldeguer added that felt highly positive that the Nietes-Gonzalez match can actually happen.
That being said, we made a breakdown of the intriguing confrontation. Keep scrolling down and find out how significant the bout would be for both men, what their keys to victory are, and why Donnie should and shouldn’t pursue the immense task of taking on boxing's current king.
THE FIGHT’S SIGNIFICANCE
For Donnie: First of all, climbing up one weight class higher to face Gonzalez means that Nietes will take a stab at becoming a three-division world champion.
Second, despite being a long-time champ, Donnie has yet to gain worldwide recognition. But win or lose, a stellar performance against the highly-touted Nicaraguan will turn things around for Nietes. Instant access to pound-for-pound Top Ten lists, heftier purses, and being half as big as AlDub are the spoils that Donnie will enjoy if he shines versus Gonzalez. He may not become a boxing megastar like Pacquiao, but a win against Gonzalez will definitely get his status closer to the Pambansang Kamao's.
Lastly, at 33 years old, the tail-end of the Negros Occidental native’s prime is on the horizon. Facing Chocolatito real soon will be Donnie's last legitimate shot at becoming a ring legend that’s revered around the world and a boxing fixture who’ll be remembered by the coming generations.
For Chocolatito: Most boxing scribes consider Gonzalez to be today’s Number One fighter and we’ve got no problem with that assessment whatsoever. The Nicaraguan champ owns one of boxing's fastest and menacing punch combinations and none of his opponents have figured out how to get out of that machine-gun-like flurry of punches.
Image via Boxingjunkie.com
But for all the praise he’s been getting, Roman is still far from reaching the superstar status that the pound-for-pound kings before him attained. Partly due to his unfamiliar body of work—sans his win over Viloria—casual fans are still skeptical of Gonzalez.
Another date with a highly credible opponent like Nietes, who’s been a champion for almost a decade now, is definitely a chance for Roman to beef up his record and meet the hype surrounding him. Facing a legitimate world champion will cement this KO artist's legacy as a boxing great, and ultimately, allow him to come closer to enjoying mega paydays.
DONNIE’S KEYS TO VICTORY
Image via Spin.ph
Chocolatito is five years younger than Donnie. The Nicaraguan's hand speed is also way faster, and he hits significantly harder. That’s why many people believe that Nietes is too big of an underdog to succeed against the flyweight champion. But we figure Donnie’s got a fighting chance because of his bottomless endurance, his experience, and of course, #puso.
We summed up how Nietes could incorporate those premium qualities into his game plan.
- Nietes’s strategy should be to keep the tussle in close quarters as if they’re inside a phone booth, make the fight ugly, and suffocate Gonzalez just as how Donnie’s pet python would suck the life out of its prey. Being a tireless worker in the ring, Donnie is capable of pulling this one off.
- To contain his opponent’s brutal offense, Donnie must quickly clinch ala Bernard Hopkins (and okay, Floyd) as soon as Chocolatito finds room to unload. Being a grizzled veteran, Nietes has the know-how and the discipline to do that till the final bell.
Take The Fight Inside
- Gonzalez is a crafty out-boxer (a fighter who fights from the outside/a distance). He can easily destroy his opponents with his fast combinations and heavy hands. Nietes must take the fight inside and stay close to the Nicaraguan's body. From there, he can work the body and sneak in uppercuts from time to time. It'll be a risk, though, since switching to in-fighting will also cancel out Donnie's methodical counter-punching.
- Gonzalez is too explosive to contain throughout a fight. He will have offensive outbursts, and will likely get several chances to unleash his full arsenal on Donnie's face. We’re hoping Nietes's mettle can help him withstand the dangerous Nicaraguan.
GONZALEZ’ KEYS TO VICTORY
Image via ESPN.com
Chocolatito is so talented that it seems like he doesn’t need to make too many adjustments to beat Donnie. He can pretty much be the same punching machine he’s been in his past 44 fights and it’ll be enough to lift him to victory. When referring to his tremendous boxing ability, you’ll find it appropriate to say, "Eh ‘di ikaw na!" (Even if you're not a fan of the phrase.)
Seriously, he's that good.
Overwhelming his opponent with a barrage of six to seven-punch combinations will still be Gonzalez's strategy if ever he battles the Filipino champ. If he can avoid Donnie’s crushing right hands and get enough space to set off his fusillade of accurate blows, Roman will be in good shape to keep the pound-for-pound crown.
ON WHETHER NIETES SHOULD OR SHOULD NOT FACE GONZALEZ
The Filipino fight fans are split on a Gonzalez-Nietes collision. One half is excited to witness it while the other half dislikes the match-up in fear of Donnie getting his ass handed to him. Basically, though, it all boils down to the pros-and-cons of facing an elite fighter. And for us, the rewards Nietes could reap outweigh the risks he’d be taking.
Remember, whatever the outcome may be, a good showing against Gonzalez is already a ticket to bigger things. Besides, a loss, even if it’s one-sided, will not send Donnie’s career 10 years back. If he comes up short, he can still return to his original weight class, where he can wreak havoc once again.
If you believe that Nietes would suffer permanent damage should he fight Chocolatito, please calm down. You might be forgetting that our WBO Light Flyweight champion is tough-as-nails, and that he’s strong and skilled enough to hang with the best of them. Donnie has earned a shot at Gonzalez. The only acceptable reason why our compatriot should shy away from the Nicaraguan star is if Donnie himself is content with his current status in the world of boxing.
Image via RingTV.com
To close our argument—we’re about to go philosophical, so please bear with us—minsan lang ito. In life, regardless of what field you’re in, leaving your comfort zone for personal growth is always a good move. Having been a champion since forever, the light flyweight division has turned into Donnie’s safety blanket. From this point on, aside from the steady pay and more Ws to his record, defending his title against inferior opposition won't improve his stature in the sport.
We say it's about time Ahas takes on a new challenge. And there's no bigger challenge than taking on boxing's current pound-for-pound champ.