Nietes batters Garcia into submission for ninth title defense

Ryan Songalia
Nietes batters Garcia into submission for ninth title defense
Donnie Nietes drops Raul Garcia twice before Garcia's corner throws in the towel after the fifth round in Bacolod City

BACOLOD CITY, Philippines (UPDATED) – Donnie Nietes finally got the spectacular hometown title defense he had always wanted as he battered Mexico’s Raul Garcia into submission after 5 rounds at the University of St La Salle Coliseum in Bacolod City, Philippines on Saturday, May 28.

Nietes (38-1-4, 22 knockouts) dropped Garcia (38-4-1, 23 KOs) twice in round 3, with the first knockdown coming after stunning the southpaw with a left hook and following with an insurance right hand punch to the body. Garcia remained on unsteady legs the rest of the round, going down again from a body punch. Nietes couldn’t miss from that point on, and Garcia’s corner wisely elected to throw in the towel between rounds. 

Garcia, 33, of La Paz, Mexico had previously held the IBF and WBO strawweight titles, and loses by knockout for the first time in his 12-year career.

It was Nietes’ first fight in his home province of Negros Occidental in 5 years, when he won a close decision against Garcia’s twin brother Ramon in the same building. The inconclusive ending in 2011 left Nietes with something on his bucket list to accomplish, which the Garcia knockout crossed out.

“Of course I am very happy because I was able to fulfil my promise to my countrymen,” said Nietes, 34, who grew up in nearby Murcia.

“In the first round coach [Edmund Villamor] and I were looking whether I can handle Garcia’s power. I was looking for the right timing so within 3 or 4 rounds I got to him. I said to myself ‘I can knock him out.'”

Nietes, who has now successfully defended his world title 9 times, could enter the mix for bigger fights 4 pounds north at flyweight, where WBC flyweight champ Roman Gonzalez and WBA/WBO unified titleholder Juan Francisco Estrada would present lucrative challenges for the 34-year-old Filipino.

First he must get past a September 24 mandatory defense against against Moises Fuentes, a former titleholder whom Nietes had knocked out in 2014 following a draw in their first meeting the year before. That fight is a “done deal” for the StubHub Center in Carson, California, Nietes’ promoter Michael Aldeguer of ALA promotions tells Rappler.

“It’s time to make bigger fights now,” Aldeguer says.

Gonzalez, whose last 3 fights have been carried by premium American network HBO and HBO pay-per-view, is expected to move up a weight class, but Aldeguer disclosed that he had already spoken with Zanfer Promotions during a US trip earlier this month about making a fight with Estrada, a durable Mexican with 6 title defenses to his credit.

Aldeguer says he had also had preliminary talks with American network HBO about making a fight with Estrada.

“It’s an expensive fight, a big fight, two world champions. We’ve also talked with HBO. Nothing serious but we’ve exchanged emails. The reason I haven’t pushed it is because of this fight,” said Aldeguer.

Villanueva wins in controversial fashion

The bantamweight fight between Arthur Villanueva and Juan Jimenez was shaping up to be a club show classic as Villanueva, fighting in his hometown, was dropped in round two, only to drop his Mexican foe in round 3. It was brought to an abrupt end when an accidental headbutt laid Jimenez out cold for several minutes at 21 seconds of round 4.

Despite video evidennce replaying in the arena showing the head clash, referee Dan Nietes continued counting to 10 and ruled the conclusion a knockout win for Villanueva. This writer showed an official from the Games and Amusement Board a replay of the head clash and stated that Nietes’ 10-count would stand, citing a light jab that grazed Villanueva beforehand as justification.

“We cannot go by that,” the GAB official told this writer after seeing the video.

The 27-year-old Villanueva now moves to 29-1 (15 KOs) and has won two straight since losing a close decision to McJoe Arroyo last year for the vacant IBF junior bantamweight title. Jimenez (22-10, 15 KOs) has now lost 9 times by knockout.

Overweight Melindo struggles

Milan Melindo’s difficulties began on the scales, where he weighed in 4.75 pounds over the contractually agreed upon 110-pound limit, and they continued once the bell rang for his bout against Maximino Flores. Melindo prevailed in the end, winning a unanimous decision in a headbutt-shortened fight by the scores of 69-64, 68-65 and 67-66.

The 69-64 scorecard did not reflect the reality of a close, physical battle which saw the Mexican Flores (19-3, 13 KOs) back up the two-time title challenger Melindo (34-2, 12 KOs) of Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines. Melindo did his best work with short uppercuts as Flores leaned in, but none of them were strong enough to back Flores up.

The fight came to an abrupt halt after an attacking Flores clashed heads with Melindo, creating a serious cut on his left eye.

Earlier in the night, Kevin Jake Cataraja (4-0, 3 knockouts) of Cebu City, Philippines had little difficulty in dispatching Thai opponent Chatchai Or Benjamas (5-8, 4 KOs), dropping him 3 times before the fight was waved off at :14 of round 4. –

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