Nietes again meets Ioka in world title fight in Tokyo

LONGEST-REIGNING Filipino world boxing champion Donnie “Ahas” Nietes finally get to challenge reigning World Boxing Organization (WBO) super flyweight Kazuto Ioka of Japan on July 13 at the Ota-City Gymnasium in Tokyo.

Nietes, the 40-year-old boxer pride of Murcia, Negros Occidental, told BusinessMirror on Thursday that he is the mandatory challenger to Ioka’s belt that he vacated four years ago to pursue bigger fights but later on regretted his decision.

“At last after three years I get a world title fight. My patience has finally paid off,” Nietes.

Nietes vacated his WBO super flyweight belt in March 2019 to give way to compatriot Aston Palicte. He only had two fights since, none a world title bout.

Palicte, however, suffered a 10th-round technical knockout loss in June 2019 to Ioka, who Nietes beat in December 31, 2018, via split decision in Macau to snatch the same belt.

“I know I’ll be a mandatory challenger because of my high ranking. There’re so many offers to fight, but I waited for this one and it’s happening now,” said Nietes, who packs a 43-1-6 win-loss-draw record with 23 knockouts.

“I regretted vacating the belt after Palicte lost. If I knew he would lose, I would just have fought Ioka instead so a Filipino will keep the title.”

After that New Year’s eve world title bout in 2018, Nietes only fought in March 3, 2021, beating Pablo Carrillo of Colombia via unanimous decision in Dubai to secure the WBO international super flyweight belt.

Last December, Nietes’s fought again but settled for a split draw against Norbelto Jimenez of Dominican Republic in Dubai.

Now, Nietes and Ioka’s paths cross again.

“All those were tailor-fitted to him. So I think he’s still the same fighter he was before. He never fought a fighter like me,” Nietes said.

Besides Palicte, Ioka defended his crown against Puerto Rican Jeyvier Cintron, Japanese Kosei Tanaka, Mexican Francisco Rodriguez Jr. and another Japanese Ryoji Fukunaga last December.