Taking an early lead in the first five rounds, staggering in the middle rounds then staging a comeback in the last two rounds, Negrense Donnie Nietes dethroned Mexican Ramon Garcia by a unanimous decision to become the new WBO light flyweight champion at the University of St. La Salle Coliseum, Saturday night.
The victory also made Nietes a two-division world boxing champion after holding the WBO minimum weight championship belt for more than three years until he decided to move up in weight early this year.
He joined the elite list of boxers in the world who managed to rule at least two different weight divisions.
Professional boxing judge Lisa Giampa from Las Vegas scored the fight 118-110, Carlos Ortiz from New York had it 117-111, and Filipino lawyer Danrex Tapdasan, 115-113, all in favor of Nietes.
The wide margin in the scorecards of the two American boxing judges, earned a howl of protest from Garcia’s corner with his coach Leo Camacho Hontiveros calling for an immediate rematch.
“This is an unfair and very controversial. The fight was stolen from us and the people knew it,” Hontiveros said.
But ALA Promotions chief executive officer Michael Aldeguer coolly responded that if one reviews the fight, it was clear that Nietes won rounds 1 to 5 with Garcia dominating rounds 7 to 10.
“Nietes came back in the 11th and 12th rounds. These things happen but Donnie won fairly and squarely,” Aldeguer said, adding that they are open to a rematch.
“Emotions run high in matches like these and anything can happen. But a game is a game and we can not please everybody. It was a unanimous decision and we have professional judges who scored the fight,” Bacolod City Mayor Evelio Leonardia said.
Games and Amusement Board chairman Juan Ramon Guanzon said it was expected from the losing side to complain and he was not surprised to hear the call for a rematch.
“The last two rounds decided the match. Nietes was able to get the last two rounds and he won,” Guanzon said.
Although his victory was tainted with controversy, the Murcia-born boxing champion expressed his gratitude to the estimated 4,000 crowd that packed the USLS Coliseum.
He admitted losing points in the middle rounds as he encountered some difficulties in hitting Garcia, who is a couple of inches taller than him.
“But I was ahead in the early rounds and the punches that he threw did not hit me. I was able to connect with my uppercuts and straight punches,” Nietes said.
Pointing at the nasty cut below right eye caused by an accidental head-butt, the boxing champion from Murcia and Bacolod City said he is ready to face Garcia in a rematch, preferably in Mexico where he is more comfortable in fighting his opponents.
Meanwhile, Leonardia said the city government of Bacolod will honor Nietes in the MassKara celebration this week as his humility can be an inspiration to young Bacoleños and aspiring athletes.
“What Donnie accomplished was not just for his family but it was good for the psyche of every Bacoleño,” Leonardia said. *NAB