Nietes vacates flyweight belt

Three-division world champion and the longest reigning Philippine world champion Donnie ‘Ahas’ Nietes has officially vacated his IBF world flyweight belt and announced that he is moving up to super flyweight as he wants to face the top dogs in the division including WBC champion Thai star Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, former pound-for-pound king Roman Gonzalez, Juan Francisco Estrada, McWilliams Arroyo or even against fellow Filipino WBO champion Jerwin Ancajas.

In a prepared statement read by Nietes in front of the Cebu media at St Mark’s Hotel here Wednesday, he said:

“Today, I have made my decision to move up to 115 and vacate my IBF Flyweight world title, this is the challenged I have been waiting for. To go up in weight is never easy but this is my dream to become a 4th division world champion and to fight all the big names at super flyweight.”

Nietes captured the IBF world flyweight belt by defeating Komgrich Nantapech of Thailand on April 29, 2017 in Cebu and defended it once against mandatory challenger Juan Carlos Reveco of Argentina last Feb. 24 at The Forum in Inglewood, California as one of the featured fights on ‘Superfly 2’ boxing event headlined by Sor Rungvisai vs Juan Francisco Estrada.

Nietes thanked the IBF for giving him the opportunity to fight for their belt at flyweight and also thanked the WBO, whom he was their champion continuously at 105 and 108 for almost nine years from Sep. 2007 to May, 2016, for recently ranking him as their No. 1 contender at super flyweight, a division currently devoid of a champion after long time Japanese champion Naoya Inoue vacated the belt last month.

Nietes, who will turn 36 next month, is now in search of his next world championship belt in the 4th division of his highly successful boxing career and if he will succeed of capturing another world title, it will make him the only 3rd Filipino to achieve such a feat after the legendary Manny Pacquiao and Nonito Donaire Jr.

In a statement, Nietes’s promoter Michael Aldeguer said, “Donnie Nietes will fight for the WBO vacant world super flyweight title soon. We are looking forward to making the biggest fights for Donnie in the next couple of years.”

Asked who he wants to fight next, Nietes (41-1-4, 23KOs) said he wants face former pound-for-pound king Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez of Nicaragua. “It is my long cherished desire to fight Chocolatito,” Nietes who co-headlined a card with Gonzalez on Feb. 28, 2009 in Oaxaca, Mexico where they both successfully defended their world titles against their Mexican challengers, said.

Gonzalez however has a scheduled fight against former world champion Pedro Guevarra of Mexico on May 5 on the undercard of undefeated unified middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin who is still seeking an opponent after his fight against Mexican superstar Canelo Alvarez fall through. There were earlier talks in Nicaragua for a possible Nietes-Gonzalez fight during the next WBO Convention to be held in Nicaragua last week of October. An October fight however may be too long a wait for Nietes. Nietes and Gonzalez could also meet in September during the Superfly 3 event should Chocolatito wins against Gueverra.

Nietes also wants to face Thai slugger and WBC champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai but Nietes is not ranked by the WBC and Rungvisai has been reported to fight Juan Francisco Estrada of Mexico next in a rematch, also during the Superfly 3 event in September.

Another possibility for Nietes is to take on compatriot Aston Palicte who is rated No. 2 by the WBO or McWilliams Arroyo of Puerto Rico who is at No. 4. Whether any of these fights, if it were to happen, will be for the vacant title or for an eliminator, will be up to the WBO to decide.

Meanwhile the IBF wasted no time in scheduling a fight for the title vacated by Nietes between No. 3 ranked Moruti Mthalane of South Africa and No. 5 ranked Muhammad Waseem, a Pakistan-born who now resides in South Korea, on July 15 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on the undercard of the Manny Pacquiao vs Lucas Matthysse WBA world welterweight championship. (