For the first “fighter of the week” award given out for 2019, we award it to a fighter who won his fight in 2018. The 36-year old Donnie Nietes became a four-division world champion in his second attempt at the WBO Super Flyweight title. In his initial attempt, he had to settle for a draw with Aston Palicte back in September. Three and a half months later he got another chance at the same belt and this time seized that opportunity taking a very close decision over former two-division world champion Kaz Ioka on a New Years Eve card in Macao. Nietes handed in one more masterful performance in outdueling Ioka cementing his place in the boxing hall of fame. Nietes has had a remarkable career fighting everyone from the lighter weight classes and doing so without a single loss since 2004. He now, in the final chapter of his career, makes a run at the 115-pound division, which happens to be among if not the best and deepest division in the sport.
Nietes ended the last fight card of 2018 in impressive fashion. Nietes of Murcia, Philippines controlled the in the first few rounds landing clean counter punches as well as scoring with uppercuts to build an early lead. Ioka made adjustments in the middle rounds round and forced Nietes to become the aggressor and he began missing with his counters. Ioka, clearly, the quicker fisted fighter stated countering himself and hurting Nietes to the body. In what was a fairly even fight heading to the last few rounds. Nietes controlled the championships from both the mid-range and from distance by out jabbing Ioka and landing right hooks to edge out the close split decision and hand Ioka an L for the first time in four years, snapping his nine-fight winning streak.
Nietes name is finally appearing in pound for pound lists and he is getting the credit he deserves and according to his head-trainer, Edito Villamor is looking to fight at least twice this year. There is no shortage of names and mega fights with the top guys that in the super flyweight division. All of the biggest names are available including WBC champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai of Thailand, Juan Francisco Estrada of Mexico and former pound-for-pound king Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzales of Nicaragua. Fellow countryman Jerwin Ancajas holds the IBF strap and a rematch with Aston Palicte would be logical next step as their first fight ended in a controversial draw with both fighters thinking they were the obvious winner. Palicte would need to get by undefeated Puerto Rican prospect Jose Martinez at months end to make that fight a reality. All of the mentioned matchups would be the interesting and lucrative for Nietes as he winds down his illustrious career.