When you talk to a typical boxing fan about the Philippines they rush to tell you how good Manny Pacquiao and Nonito Donaire are. If you talk to a Filipino fight fan however there are numerous other names that get mentioned including that of 2-weight world champion Donnie Nietes (33-1-4, 19) who is without a doubt the most proven fighter currently playing his trade in the Philippines. Not only is he fighting in his homeland but he is doing so without the plaudits given to his more famous compatriots who are getting big money from US TV to fight.
This weekend we see Nietes returning to the ring in an attempt to record his fifth defense of the WBO Light Flyweight title and moving his total world title defenses to 9 defenses after previously having defended the WBO Minimumweight title 4 times and in the opposite to the Filipino will be Mexico's Carlos Velarde (26-3-1, 14), a man fighting in his second world title bout.
For those who haven't yet seen Nietes he is a technically well schooled boxer-puncher who looks absolutely amazing when he's fighting at his pace and in full flow. At other times however he looks labored and fights as if he thinks he's going to walk bouts just because he's got natural talent. The two different sides of Nietes were seen in his two bouts with Moises Fuentes. The first of the bouts saw Nietes loading up on shots and being dragged into a real struggle with Fuentes who got inside, out worked Nietes and slowed with body shots in what ended up being a highly controversial draw. Just 14 months later Nietes dominated Fuentes and stopped him in 9 rounds in what was one of the best performances of his career.
Through his 38 fight career Nietes has scored numerous notable wins over the likes of Pornsawan Porpramook, Manuel Vargas, Jesus Silvestre, Mario Rodriguez, Ramon Garcia Hirales, Moises Fuentes and Sammy Gutierrez all of whom have been in and around the world level for years. We're not suggesting that Nietes on the pound-for-pound lists but he is very over-looked and has the skills the really do impress when he's fighting to his potential.
Mexico's 24 year old Velarde is an interesting but limited fighter who turned professional aged 16 and has struggled when he has stepped up in class losing his first major step up in 5 rounds to Jesus Silvestre in 2009 and then losing to Ryo Miyazaki in a WBA Minimumweight title last year, suffering a KO of the Year contender in the process. Whilst he has sadly lost his two most notable contests to date he has scored a handful of wins including a decision over recent world champion Oswaldo Novoa and a win over Jose Argumedo.
In the ring Velarde fighters in an exciting manner. He comes forward, applies a lot of pressure and loves going to the body whilst fighting on the inside. He's not the most poweful or the quickest but he is very fun to watch. Sadly the risks he takes to apply his pressure is often his downfall as his defense is poor to say the least and he can be countered relatively easily by a half decent fighter.
Before this bout was made Nietes was given a choice between Velarde or Saul Juarez. We suspect that Velarde was chosen due to his style which is fun, but open and it's likely that that openness will leave Nietes with great big holes to exploit time and time against until he eventually stops Velarde in what we suspect will be an entertaining but 1-sided contest that makes Nietes shine like a star without needing to really work hard for the win.
For Nietes we're expecting this will be his last bout at Light Flyweight before he joins the fray at Flyweight adding further to be's most exciting division. We suspect he's intentionally picked a fighter he can look good against so that he can wave good bye to 108lbs in style and we've no real complaint there despite the fact it does leave the division relatively empty for the time being.
(Image courtesy of ALA Boxing)
Courtesy of Boxrec.com
WBA Minimumweight champion Ryo Miyazaki (18-0-3, 10) may very well be the most unknown Japanese champion right now though he's a fighter who will be looking to make a name for himself in 2013.
Best known as a stablemate of 2-weight world champion Kazuto Ioka, Miyazaki actually won his title after Ioka vacated to move up up to Light Flyweight. Although Miyazaki had to come through former world champion Pornsawan Porpramook to win the belt it was a belt vacated for him to win.
Aged 24 and based in Osaka, Miyazaki came through the tough Japanese amateur scene where he ran up 30 wins from 34 fights stopping a higher than expect 21 bouts early. It was obvious from an early age that despite fighting in the small weights that he was a fighter who could force stoppages.
In 2006, not long after Miyazaki's 18th birthday he turned professional and within 3 years of being a professional he had already claimed the Japanese Light Flyweight title thanks to a victory over Munetsugu Kayo.
After defending the national title once Miyazaki would go on to claim the OPBF Light Flyweight title thanks to a stoppage of Katsuhiko Iezumi. It appeared he was on the fast track to a world title bout though had to wait well over 2 years before that opportunity would arise. Instead of getting the world title bout Miyazaki instead had to do with the OPBF belt that he would defend 4 times before finally getting his shot at the vacant world title.
Although Miyazaki could only manage a split decision against Porpramook the young Japanese fighter genuinely showed characteristics that fight fans need to love. He proved he could take a shot (Porpramook landed enough of them to test out Miyazaki's durability), he proved he could trade with the best of them (often going toe-to-toe with Porpramook) and he could also box on the move (as he did excellently in round 9). Though there are questions with his power (which doesn't look to be as good as his record suggest) and his stamina he does look a pretty decent fighter with genuine confidence and good skills that just needed a little bit of work. Of course it is hard to look good against Porpramook who is relentless, tough and always comes to fight.
The first challenger to Miyazaki's throne is little known Mexican Carlos Velarde (23-2-1, 13) who at 22 years old will be looking for his biggest win by far.
Born in Culiacan and known as "Chapito", Velarde has been a professional boxer since he was 16. On his debut in 2007 he scored a draw with fellow debutant Daniel Contreras Jr before running up a 10 fight winning streak against incredibly limited opponents (who between them had 2 recorded victories).
In Velarde's 12th professional bout he would face his first test as he went up against Jesus Silvestre and unfortunately for Velarde he would come up short suffering a 5th round TKO loss.
Rather than using the loss as a launch pad to fight opponents of a moderate caliber Velarde's team stuck him in with more completely inept opponents as he strung together another 10 wins. Although he did score a notable victory over Jorle Estrada, Estrada's record had been bulked up and he was coming in on the back of 2 defeats.
Like in his first loss Velarde took a giant step up from awful opponents to fringe world level guys and was again beaten as Panamanian Edwin Diaz claimed an 8 round decision over him. Thankfully following the loss to Diaz it appeared that Velarde's men put more faith in him and he added 3 more victories to his ledger including a semi-notable one over Patricio Camacho.
Whilst Velarde hasn't yet competed at the world level he has faced 2 men who have fought for (and one has won) the WBA interim title at Minimumweight, though admittedly he did lose to both.
From watching clips of Velarde he appears to be an offensively minded fighter who stalks an opponent and looks to land his fast left hook on an opponent who comes in. The left hook of Velarde seem to be a punch that he likes to land to the body just as much as the head, though it is wild and he could be punished for the way it loops around. Velarde appears to switch stances at times though it appears to be less a case of choosing to and more a case clumsy footwork, especially when he lets his hands go. Like most Mexicans it appears that he likes a fight rather than a boxing and this is never a bad thing from the point of view of a viewer.
It's unfair to write off Velarde despite his weak opposition so far and in all honesty this looks like it could be a bit of a modern classic. Miyazaki is the sort of fighter can box or brawl and if he looks to brawl the Mexican challenger will return fire with fire in what could end up being an explosive contest. If Miyazaki wants to make life easy for himself he could easily box the socks off Velarde who appears clumsy with his feet and lacking the sort of jab that would trouble Miyazaki, though if the Japanese fighter wants to make a statement he'll do so by causing a tear up.
Although Miyazaki isn't well known, he has the ability to put on memorable bouts and it'd probably be in his best interest here to put on a show that could go viral with boxing fans. Velarde is the perfect foil for such a bout and this could be the type of "youtube classic" that several of Miyazaki's countrymen have been involved in recent years.
For those who haven't seen anything of Ryo Miyazaki the video below shows his full fight with Pornsawan Porpramook.
World Title Previews
The biggest fights get broken down as we try to predict who will come out on top in the up coming world title bouts.