Longest reigning Filipino world champion boxer Donnie Nietes will finally get to show his wares in front of a larger audience by defending his flyweight crown against Mexico’s Juan Carlos Reveco.
The fight, which will be the biggest in Nietes’ 15-year professional career, will open the HBO "Boxing After Dark" tripleheader dubbed "Superfly 2."
For sports analyst Dennis Principe, it will be Nietes’ chance to finally prove his greatness.
“Malaking bagay ito sa kaniya because finally for the third time na sa US siya lalaban, he will fight in front of a real market. It’s now up to him,” Principe said.
“This is the first time for him to prove that he’s really a great champion of the sport.”
Nietes is a 4-time world champion in three weight classes, who has reigned as a world champion since 2007. He broke the record set by Boxing Hall of Fame Gabriel "Flash" Elorde by becoming the longest-reigning Filipino boxing world champion for 10 years and 8 months.
However, the Murcia, Negros Occidental native has struggled to gain worldwide recognition since he rarely got international exposure.
Fight analyst Ed Tolentino said Nietes, 35, would have to make the most of the chance since he’s not getting any younger.
“It’s big and long overdue . . . Nietes takes good care of his body and despite his age, I think he still has what it takes to rock a few applecarts in the flyweight class,” said Tolentino. “But time is no longer at his side and he must make the most of the opportunity.”
He said Nietes should have chased Roman Gonzalez when the Nicaraguan was still champion and then pound-for-pound king. However, Thailand’s Srisaket Sor Rungvisai beat him to it and won the WBC super flyweight title.
Tolentino hopes Nietes makes a splash in the Superfly series to set up a clash with the Thai champion.
There are some good fights left in him and if Srisaket beats Juan Francisco Estrada in his upcoming defense, “I’d like Nietes to pursue the Thai though he will have to move up in weight,” he said.
Principe said Nietes could provide a good eye-opener for American fight fans.
“If it ends up na something na special fight for him, ending in a special manner that will really make people talk about him, doon mari-realize ng mga tao na ‘hindi natin alam ’to a. Meron world champion na ganitong katagal.’ ”
The fight takes place at The Forum in Los Angeles on February 24.
Nietes is currently training at coach Freddie Roach's famed Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles.
(For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.)