Donnie Nietes: A Decade of Championship Greatness
ABS-CBN Sports on Sep 30, 2017 08:53 PM
A DECADE OF DOMINANCE.
The Philippines has produced many boxing legends, from the likes of Pancho Villa and Gabriel “Flash” Elorde to Luisito Espinosa and Gerry Peñalosa, and Manny Pacquiao and Nonito Donaire Jr.
However, none of those mentioned above can measure to the longevity of the reign of one Filipino boxing champion, who up to this day remains on top of his game and has never been beaten in a world title fight.
His name is Donnie Nietes.
For Donnie 'Ahas' Nietes, the journey to greatness started on September 30, 2007, when he defeated Thailand's Pornsawan Porpramook for the vacant World Boxing Organization (WBO) minimumweight title.
The victory gave Nietes his first world boxing championship, but nobody knew back then that it was the start of what would end up as the longest reign in Philippine boxing history. Believe it or not, ten years after he became a world champ for the first time, Nietes remains a world champion, only in a heavier weight class that is the flyweight division.
Previously, Gabriel 'Flash' Elorde held the record for holding the world junior lightweight title from 1960 to 1967, a period of seven years. Nietes held the WBO minimumweight title from 2007 until 2011, when he was forced to relinquish it after winning the WBO light flyweight crown on October 8, 2011.
Nietes held the WBO light flyweight crown until 2016, when he gave it up to move up in weight and challenge for the world flyweight title. From September 2007 until May 2016, Nietes reigned uninterrupted as world champion in two weight categories -- a period of almost nine years, thus making him the longest reigning champion in Philippine boxing history.
In April 2017, Nietes added another feather on his cap by winning the IBF flyweight title and becoming the country's third three-division world champ after Manny Pacquiao and, Nonito Donaire Jr.
Overall, Pacquiao won an unprecedented eight division titles while Donaire captured four regular world crowns. But here's what sets Nietes apart from Pacquiao and Donaire Jr.: Neither Pacquiao nor Donaire Jr. enjoyed a title reign as long as Nietes.'
Also, unlike Pacquiao and Donaire, Jr., Nietes has never been knocked out in a world title fight.
Nietes has actually never lost when a world title is at stake as the only loss in his career happened in a non-title bout in September 2009 against Angky Ankota.
Nietes is unbeaten in his last 32 fights, with only three fights ending in draws. He answered, “After I lost that fight against Ankota, I trained hard to improve my skills and movement. I stay focused during practice. I give my best and I work really hard. For me, it is very important to always have self-discipline” the humble champion added.
Nietes is also the true “Mexecutioner,” as he has never lost to a Mexican challenger. Ahas is 16-0 with one draw against Mexican opponents.
Whenever he fights in Mexico, he always gets the rock star treatment that he truly deserves as boxing fans there know very well of his greatness.
While he does not get the same adulation here, the good thing is that Filipinos still have a chance to appreciate and cheer for Nietes as he seems to get even better and stronger through the years.
Nietes is a tireless workhorse in the ring, which explains why he remains a world champion to this day despite being already 35 years old. He has no trouble making the weight for his fights which speaks well of his conditioning.
When he is asked about his motivation, he answered, “I always get prepared whenever I have a scheduled fight. I want to remain a World Champion and give honour to my family and my team ALA boxing stable”.
Nietes also offers an unconventional fighting style that allowed him to stay this long as world champion. On offense, Nietes can box and brawl and owns an overhand right that carries above-average power. On defense, Nietes' penchant to crouch low has made him a hard target to find.
Nietes always keeps himself ready for the next fight. On regular days, the Filipino Champion loves to do biking. Sometimes he travels with groups. Sometimes by himself. But what makes it really special is that his biking group conducts a feeding program for children on those provinces that they visit. “For me its dual purpose, I could stay fit through biking and at the same time I could share my blessings with other people and meet new friends.”
Giving back has always been part of Nietes’ goals, as someone who grew up in poverty. He was working as a janitor in the ALA Boxing Gym before taking up boxing. From his modest earnings as boxing champion, Nietes has built two homes, one in Mandaue and the other in his native Bacolod, and financed his siblings' education.
He describes himself as a kind, simple and an ordinary person. “I am a boxer who is trusts in God. Before my fight, I always pray because on the ring, there is no one to help me but God.”
When asked about his humble beginnings, he says, “In order to succeed, you must listen to the advice of your parents. For me, the number one rule is to honour them and avoid disobedience. They always tell me to do good deeds. We must follow. We may not agree with their decisions but your parents is always thinking on what is good for you” he added.
In his most recent interview, an overjoyed Nietes expressed his appreciation for all his supporters and the people behind the success of his career, saying, “I would not have been celebrating my 10th year as a world champion if I weren’t given the chance to box in the first place, so I want to thank my manager, sir ALA,” talking of the ALA Boxing Group’s top honcho, Tony Aldeguer.
“I’m very grateful to my promoter, ALA Promotions, our partner TV network ABS-CBN, the local and international media, my family, friends, fans, and of course, God Almighty who made all this happen. It has been a long journey, but nothing beats the happiness I feel being identified as Donnie “Ahas” Nietes, the longest-reigning Filipino world champion” he added.
Unbeaten in the last 13 years and a world champion in three weight divisions, Nietes has indeed earned his place in the pantheon of great Filipino world champions.
Thankfully, Filipinos can still witness his greatness because the country's longest reigning boxing champion is not done winning yet.