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Stealing Pacquiao’s thunder

/ 05:06 AM December 07, 2018

Donnie Nietes steals Manny Pacquiao’s thunder on New Year’s Eve.

The most decorated Filipino fighter in recent decades other than Pacquiao, Nietes battles Kazuto Ioka of Japan at Wynn Palace Hotel in Macau.

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Their encounter for the vacant WBO super flyweight title happens more than two weeks  before the sitting senator, and boxing’s only eight-division champion, goes back to action against Adrien Broner at MGM Grand in Las Vegas on Jan. 19.

The 36-year-old Nietes (41-1-5, 23 KOs), unbeaten for the last 14 years, bids to win a world title in a fourth weight division following a dubious draw with countryman Aston Palicte in Inglewood, California, recently.

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After sparring sporadically with young ALA Boxing Promotions fighters, Nietes has ratcheted up training by sparring three times a week in Cebu with more experienced boxers, including one whose style resembles Ioka’s.

Sizing up his opponent, Nietes told me Ioka was “not a strong fighter but has incredible timing and speed.”

Nietes and his handlers will move to Macau on Dec. 26 to wrap up training camp.

Ioka, 29, (23-1, 13 KOs), is also seeking a world title in a fourth weight class. Coming out of a 17-month retirement, he debuted in the junior bantamweight division with a 10-round decision win over McWilliams Arroyo on the Nietes-Palicte undercard.

Nietes will face Ioka for the 115-pound title because ring fans and experts think he won over Palicte. But the Murcia, Negros Occidental, native readily admits that he lacked aggressiveness against his taller countryman.

Handled by boxing manager Taku Nagashima, Ioka will attempt to become the first Japanese boxer in history to claim world titles in four weight classes.

Meanwhile, Nietes is working hard to polish his star and gain more meaningful bouts in a sport that offers more money to larger fighters.

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A win over Ioka lands him again on “SuperFly,” a boxing series expected to be readily picked up by Showtime because of its mouth-watering matchups in the 115-pound division after HBO decided to stop broadcasting boxing bouts.

Michael Aldeguer, Nietes’ promoter and manager, said his boxer and Ioka “are two legendary Asian fighters going for a fourth division world title.”

“This may go down as one of the best fights ever made in Asian boxing history,” said Aldeguer, president & CEO of ALA.

More than 70 ex-staffers of the Philippines News Agency (PNA) have signed up so far for a second annual reunion and Christmas party at the Rembrandt Hotel in Quezon City this Friday, Dec. 7.

Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol, an ex-PNAer and sportswriter, will again host the get-together scheduled from 1 to 6 p.m.

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TAGS: Donnie Nietes, Manny Pacquiao
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