MANILA, Philippines – Donnie ''Ahas'' Nietes outscored Mexican challenger Francisco Rodriguez Jr. in a highly tactical bout to retain the WBO and The RING light flyweight titles Saturday evening at the main event of Pinoy Pride XXXI.
The boxers figured in a grueling encounter in front of a jampacked Waterfront Hotel in Cebu as Nietes made a successful 11th title defense since his reign as minimum weight champion.
The 33-year-old Ilonggo, who brought his yellow python into the ring before the start of the bout, was able to survive Rodriguez’s wayward elbows and low fighting stance by adjusting his method of attack.
The Mexican found success in the second and third rounds with his crouching stance, attacking the Nietes' body while evading the Filipino's overhand right. Rodriguez staggered Nietes with a short right hand to the head in the second stanza, but the champion was able to weather the attack.
Nietes then switched tactics by repeatedly sticking Rodriguez's head with vicious uppercuts and hooks. This slowed down the usually aggressive Mexican.
Rodriguez rallied from the 9th to 11th when the Filipino was apparently gassing out. It was at this point where Nietes sustained a cut in the right eyebrow.
The champion then stepped up the action in the 12th and final round where he stabbed Rodriguez's face with stiff jabs, bloodying the Mexican's nose in the process.
Judges scored the bout 115-113, 119-109 and 118-110 to award Nietes a unanimous decision.
It turned out that Nietes broke his right hand in the seventh round and this hampered him from throwing his straight rights.
''Nahirapan ako talaga, noong seventh round-eight round, 'yung kamay ko sumakit. Tumama sa ulo tapos hindi na ko makasuntok ng malakas, kaya medyo nahirapan ako dun,'' he said in the post-fight interview.
Nietes said he will rest for two weeks, then return to the gym again. He said he will fight again in November.
In the main supporting bout, unbeaten Mark ''Magnifico'' Magsayo stopped cocky Mexican Rafael Reyes in the fifth round to win the IBF Youth featherweight title.
The bout was marred with several low blows from both fighters, who engaged in a bitter slugfest.
Reyes got decked in the second round when Magsayo attacked him with body shots while he was protesting a low blow.
In the fifth round, Magsayo connected punch after punch against a plodding Reyes. A left uppercut from the Filipino sent the Mexican crashing to the canvass and forced the referee to step in and halt the fight 2:29 to go in the fifth stanza.