Nietes, Sabillo to face Mexican foes in title defenses
MANILA, Philippines - WBO junior flyweight titleholder Donnie Nietes will face mandatory challenger Moises Fuentes in their long-awaited rematch on May 10 in Manila, while WBO strawweight titleholder Merlito Sabillo will likely face Francisco Rodriguez Jr. on March 22 in Mexico, says promoter Michael Aldeguer of ALA Promotions.
Nietes (32-1-4, 18 knockouts) of Murcia, Negros Occidental, Philippines will be making the fourth defense of the title he won in 2011 over Ramon Garcia Hirales.
In their first meeting last March, Nietes and Fuentes (19-1-1, 10 KOs) of Mexico City, Mexico battled to a draw in Cebu City. One judge saw the fight for Nietes while the other two had it even.
Since then, Nietes has fought just once, a knockout of overmatched journeyman Sammy Gutierrez in November, while Fuentes has fought three times.
Aldeguer says the venue will either be the Mall of Asia Arena or Araneta Coliseum, with flyweight contender Milan Melindo and comebacking fan favorite Rey "Boom Boom" Bautista tentative for the undercard.
Sabillo (23-0-1, 12 KOs) of Bacolod City is currently in the process of finalizing plans to face Rodriguez (13-2, 9 KOs) in Rodriguez's hometown of Monterrey, Mexico.
Sabillo, who is 10 years Rodriguez's senior at 30, is coming off a draw with unbeaten Argentinian Carlos Buitrago on the undercard of Nietes' last bout, and has made two defenses since being bumped up to full champion recognition after Fuentes moved up to face Nietes.
Rodriguez has won two straight since being knocked out in seven rounds by two-division champion Roman Gonzalez in September.
The Mexico card was initially supposed to be headlined by the return of Erik "El Terrible" Morales, but Morales has since withdrawn from the fight citing a hand injury. According to RingTV.com, the event will still push through, with Miguel Cotto's older brother Jose Cotto stepping in to face Jorge Paez Jr. in the main event.
Both Nietes and Sabillo are training at the Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles, Calif., and will be joined by head trainer Edito Villamor, who left Manila Sunday afternoon after leading Genesis Servania to a twelfth-round knockout of former champion Alexander Munoz on Saturday. - Rappler.com
Ryan Songalia is the sports editor of Rappler, a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) and a contributor to The Ring magazine. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. An archive of his work can be found at ryansongalia.com. Follow him on Twitter: @RyanSongalia.