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PH champ ready for marquee bouts

MANDAUE CITY—The time is now for world lightflyweight champion Donnie Nietes to step up to the plate and challenge one of the world’s top two flyweight champions of today.

Fresh from his clinical 12-round unanimous decision win over Mexican mandatory challenger Francisco Rodriguez Jr. Saturday night at the Waterfront Hotel, the 33-year-old Nietes has long been mentioned as potential opponent for Nicaraguan superstar Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez and Juan Francisco Estrada of Mexico.

The undefeated Gonzalez (43-0, 37 knockouts) is the holder of the World Boxing Council flyweight crown, while Estrada (32-2, 23 KOs) currently reigns as the unified World Boxing Association and World Boxing Organization 112-lb kingpin.

The Murcia-native Nietes did not show any signs of aging as his skills and stamina in his match against Rodriguez can still be considered exceptional.

But promoter Michael Aldeguer does not want to take chances when it comes to waiting for the proper moment to pit his ward against the top flyweights of today.

“Getting a tune-up fight at flyweight is an option, but I will definitely push for a fight against either Estrada or Gonzalez. Donnie will be 34 next year so we really have to make it happen this year,” said Aldeguer.

Aldeguer, however, said that Estrada’s handler Zanfer Promotions has showed keen interest in making an Estrada-Nietes fight soon.

The only stumbling block thus far is that Estrada is reportedly set to grant Hawaiian Brian Viloria a rematch this September in Macau.

Another option, Aldeguer said is to stage a title defense in Bacolod City, where people are said to be asking for a Nietes outing within the year.

Meantime, Nietes will allow his swollen right hand to heal, which was injured when it hit the head of Rodriguez in the 7th round of their title showdown.

RARE RING. After years of playing second fiddle to popular Filipino champions Nonito Donaire, Jr. and Manny Pacquiao, Donnie Nietes has finally gotten the accolade he truly deserves.

Nietes received a prestigious ring from the WBO during the weigh in of his recent title defense here.

WBO President Paco Valcarcel was on hand to personally bequeath the ring to Nietes, currently the longest-reigning world titleholder in Philippine boxing history, and whose uninterrupted run has now reached seven years and eight months.

Valcarcel said they have given the ring to a select number of world boxing champions namely Joe Calzaghe, Marco Antonio Barrera, Juan Manuel Marquez, Manny Pacquiao, Vitali Klitschko and Oscar De La Hoya.

“It’s how we recognize you as a champion and as a human being. Sometimes you have fighters who have seven, eight title defenses, but are not role models,” said Valcarcel. “Nietes is a great human being and a great world champion.”

The 14-karat gold ring is said to be worth around 15 to 20 thousand dollars and is encrusted with rubies, emeralds and diamonds.

SPORTS CHAT. It’s fight week of the upcoming tune-up match of five-division world champion Nonito Donaire Jr. Our daily morning program will keep in touch with team Donaire as they complete their training camp in Macau.

Donaire will battle Anthony Settoul of France in a 10-round non-title super bantamweight bout this Saturday at the Cotai Arena.

Donaire is eyeing a shot at the WBA crown currently held by Scott Quigg of the United Kingdom.

Meantime, Sports Chat airs Monday to Friday from 6 to 8 a.m. over DZSR Sports Radio 918.

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