Boxing: Aston Palicte and camp waiting for title rematch with Donnie Nietes
Santino Honasan on Feb 08, 2019 01:02 PM
"Eto yung trabaho ko, alam din naman nila Donnie yun eh. Siyempre, sports lang, trabaho lang." - Aston Palicte
After starching previously-undefeated Puerto Rican Jose Martinez in just two rounds back in late January, Filipino super flyweight contener Aston "Mighty" Palicte is back in the title picture.
The 28-year olf native of Bago, Negros earned a mandatory challenger spot after knocking out Martinez in the second round of their WBO super flyweight title eliminator, and now he's ready to challenge for the belt once more.
Fittingly, the man holding the WBO's 115-pound title is a familiar face in four-division titleholder Donnie "Ahas" Nietes, who Palicte already faced back in 2018 for the then-vacant WBO title.
Of course, the bout ended in a controversial split draw. Nietes would fight for and caputure the title just months later, defeatign Japan's Kazuto Ioka via split decision in Macau on New Year's Eve.
For Palicte, the prospect of once again challenging his fellow Negrense is all about doing his job and achieving his ultimate goal of becoming a world champion.
"Sa akin naman, unang-una, ayaw ko din sana na Pinoy yung kalaban ko, kasi dalawang Pinoy, pero sabi ko nga, wala eh, trabaho ‘to eh," Palicte told ABS-CBN Sports. "Eto yung trabaho ko, alam din naman nila Donnie yun eh. Siyempre, sports lang, trabaho lang."
In a perfect world, Palicte would rather find a way to capture a world championship without having to challenge Nietes, which could mean even more world championships for the Philippines.
"Kung may ibang paraan na hindi kami mag-lalaban [pero makakapag-champion ako], mas maganda yun," he explained. "Para yung may isa na Pinoy na champion, tapos kung manalo yung isa pang Pinoy na, kunyari ako, sa iba, world championship sa iba, at least dadagdag na naman yung Pinoy [na world champion] diba?"
How it stands however, Palicte is the next in line for the WBO title, which means that to become a champion himself, he'll have to go through Nietes. For the Roy Jones Jr-promoted talent, he's just waiting to see what materializes in the next few days or weeks.
"Ang sakin, gaya ng sinasabi ko sa kanila, hindi ko iniisip kumbaga, sana kaming dalawa ni Nietes [yung maglaban], una hindi ko gusto yun, pero kung mangyari yun, kung gusto talaga ng promoter ko at promoter niya, manager niya at manager ko, wala naman ako magagawa kasi boxer ako. Kailangan ko sundin kung ano yung desisyon nila, nung promoter ko at ng manager ko."
"Talagang nag-hihintay lang ako sa kung ano gusto nila," he continued.
While the WBO has ordered a rematch between the two Negros-born pugilists, Dennis Gasgonia of ABS-CBN News reports that Nietes' promoter ALA Promotions will be looking at the options, which could include a unification bout with the other 115-pound titleholders.
Palicte's long-time manager Jason Soong knows full well that a do-over with Nietes is far from set in stone, and he says that he understands the Cebu-based stable's desire to go after the division's bigger stars.
"I understand where they’re coming from, especially with Donnie being an older boxer, I guess he’s going towards the later part of his career, so I understand where they’re coming from, but walang personalan, it’s boxing, but there’s a reason why we’re the mandatory challenger," Soong elaborated. "If they don’t want to fight us, they’ll have to probably vacate the belt, because I don’t think the WBO is going…just the way the WBO is addressing this, the fact that they’re coming out with statements right away, and then the official letters are being circulated, I think the WBO is very serious that when it’s a mandatory, it’s a mandatory."
"I don’t think they’re playing around with that," he added.
Much like Palicte, Soong reiterated that the desire to go after Nietes stems from the simple fact that he is the one holding the belt.
"I understand them, but kami, we’re happy because we feel like we earned it, bottomline. It’s not like we chose him as an opponent, nagkataon lang na he holds the belt. Even that for me, them fighting for that belt, for me it’s also, that’s what I’m questioning, because [Donnie and Aston are] one and two, and they leapfrog us and then they fight for the belt and we’re left with the eliminator, but for me, sige, we took it. We took it and we’re here now."
While the next step for Palicte remains unclear at this point, Soong is confident that his ward's next fight will be one for a major world championship.
"I’m excited, because I think no matter what happens, Aston’s next fight will be for a world championship, whether it’s with Donnie or with someone else. I’m excited."
Should Nietes end up vacating the WBO title, Soong sees a scenario wherein Palicte could end up facing Mexican star Juan Francisco Estrada for the title in what he considers a 'dream fight'.
"Well, if he vacates it and we’re in the championship, the one next ranked is Estrada," Soong said. "That would be, ever since Aston was a contender, [Estrada] was actually our dream match, and I think their styles, Estrada was the main event in the last SuperFly 3, and it was always our dream matchup, one because he’s a big name and we think it would be a very good, very entertaining fight, and I think we would do well against a fighter like that."