MANILA, Philippines - Barely a week after Manny Pacquiao boosted the country’s morale, two other Filipino world champions climb the ring tonight eyeing the same positive result.
Donnie Nietes, the reigning WBO light-flyweight champ, and Merlito Sabillo, current WBO minimumweight king, will put their titles at stake at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Nietes faces Mexico’s Sammy “Guty” Gutierrez in what the Pinoy champion described as a tune-up fight as he eyes a rematch with Mexican rival Moises Fuentes.
Sabillo (23-0) battles Nicaraguan Carlos Buitrago (27-0) in a battle between undefeated boxers.
Four other Filipino boxers pursuing a world title will see action in this heavy boxing card presented by the ALA Boxing Promotions and dubbed “Filipinos Kontra Latinos.”
Milan Melindo disputes the WBO International flyweight title against Mexico’s Jose Alfredo Rodriguez; Jason Pagara puts his WBO International light-welter title on the line against Vladimir Baez of the Dominican Republic; AJ “Bazooka” Banal collides with Puerto Rico’s Lucian Gonzalez; and Jimrex Jaca locks horns with Indonesia’s Wellem Reyk.
All fighters made weight yesterday noon.
Nietes said Pacquiao’s recent victory over Brandon Rios in Macau serves as a motivation. Also in the minds of the Filipino boxers seeing action tonight are the countless victims of Typhoon Yolanda.
“We watched his (Pacquiao) fight and it makes us even more eager to deliver for our country,” said Nietes in Filipino.
Aside from Pacquiao, another Filipino who recently scored an impressive win was Nonito Donaire Jr. who knocked out Vic Darchinyan.
Both Pacquiao and Donaire bounced back from defeat.
“We’re happy to see Filipino athletes bounce back. It will surely inspire us. What we learned from watching Pacquiao and Donaire’s recent fight is how to use your head,” said Sabillo.
“We also learned the value of patience. Kailangan talaga gamitin ang utak sa laban,” he added.
Gutierrez, who’s always on the attack, vowed to wage war against Nietes, who may have looked past his opponent when he described tomorrow’s bout as a “tune-up fight.”
“It’s going to be war because of the known rivalry between Filipinos and Mexicans,” said Gutierrez through a translator.
Gutierrez is a veteran of 44 fights, winning 33 of them and losing nine times. Nietes is better off with his ring record of 31-1-4 with 17 knockouts.
“I’m eager to bring honor to our country,” Nietes said.