3 More Rounds

Nietes stops Fuentes, retains WBO title

In a rematch of last year’s WBO light flyweight title bout, Donnie “Ahas” Nietes leaves no doubt as to who is the champ.

The terrific follow-up to that hotly-contested, albeit fair draw decision occurred at the Mall of Asia Arena, in the same country where visitor Moises Fuentes first showed why he was a worthy challenger.

Fuentes came out intensely and threw significant punches with intent—such a recurring theme for at least eight competitive rounds. Nietes, though, may have edged many of those early rounds with cleaner and clearer blows.

The determined Mexican continued to deliver body blows, something that the champion acknowledged after the fight, and escalating upstairs. But at least by the mid-point of the scheduled 12-rounder, “Ahas” (“Snake”) employed a tactic which may not have been evidently optimized at the first fight—crouching or dipping low, making him a smaller target for the at least 3-inch-taller opponent.

The seventh round was the first one in which the sneaky Snake clearly dominated. While “Moi” tried to immediately avenge in the following round, Nietes’ fists are still finding its target, as he geared up to produce memorable moments within the next three minutes for the hometown crowd.

The short jab-straight counter of the Negros native had been landing down the pipe all night, and when he decided to take charge during the ninth, Fuentes decided to take a knee. Uptight, as he admitted after the fight, he anticlimactically renounced his bonus point by hitting his hapless victim while on the ground, also giving the younger fighter extra time to recover. But it ultimately wouldn’t matter.

When this writer asked him at the press conference, Nietes confirmed that it was indeed a form of a left jab and right straight combo which worked effectively for him throughout the fight. He used these weapons to finish his foe off by twice more taking him off his feet, the rest of the people on the arena were on theirs, as referee Robert Byrd called it a TKO by the third knockdown with four seconds left on the current canto.

Since their meeting last year, the handlers of Fuentes – Jorge Barrera and Jorge Barrera Sr., the father and brother of Marco Antonio Barrera – gave him a busier schedule (three fights compared to Nietes one mandatory defense), but this marks his first loss in three years, and second overall. He moves to 19-2-1, with 10 KOs.

Meanwhile, the 31-year-old Nietes had been undefeated since 2004, and has held the WBO 108-lb. belt for six years now. The Filipino has also picked up the vacant lineal light flyweight world championship in the process, which the Ring Magazine awards.

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