Last year Nietes struggled to a draw with Mexico's Moises Fuentes (19-2-1, 10). Today they fought a rematch with the WBO Light Flyweight title of Nietes on the line. We had expected a fight similar to the first one with Nietes looking slow, lazy and old. Instead we got a sharp, sensational Nietes who fought to a gameplan and show off all the facets that have made him such a long reigning champion.
Early on the fight looked tough. The opening round was close with both men struggling to have much in terms of sustained success. It was a round that likely went to Nietes but could easily have been a Fuentes round without much argument . Thankfully for Nietes it was pretty much the only close round before he started boxing and moving making Fuentes look like a slow, one dimensional fighter who was simply unable to compete. The punches from Nietes were crisp and accurate, his defensive work was impregnable and Fuentes was struggling to do much more than land on the arms or flail away at the air and worst of all for Fuentes was his predictability walking straight in and being tagged as a result.
There were moments where Fuentes did mange to have some success, such as in round 5 where Fuentes managed to connect with some solid body shots, but by then Fuentes's eye was reddening and the shots of Nietes were taking their toll on the challenger. Fuentes wasn't looking like a man being beaten up, but he was clearly being beaten by a fighter who had a point to prove and wanted to show the world, and his critics, that he really was one of the truly elite at Light Flyweight.
In round 6 the success of Fuentes started to become less frequent again. Nietes was landing crisp 1-2's on the counter, tucking up tight when Fuentes was on top of him and generally landing neutralising the challenger. This continued round after round with Fuentes becoming less and less successful whilst Nietes began turning the screw.
By round 8 it seemed to be less about who was going to win and more about whether or not the fight would manage to go the distance. Fuentes, who is genuinely a tough guy, was beginning to take a shellacking.
In round 9 we quickly found out whether or not this would be going the distance as Nietes turned up the heat. He managed to knock down Fuentes with nasty body shots-come-low blows then landed a shot as Fuentes was down, being deducted a point as a result. Fuentes got some time to recover from the foul but the damage had been done and soon afterwards Fuentes was down again...and then again. This time the referee waved it off without even bothering with the count, it was clear Fuentes was finished.
With this victory Nietes claimed the Ring magazine Light Flyweight title as well as retained his WBO belt. He is however unlikely to fight the "best of the rest" in the form of WBC champion Naoya Inoue in what would be a divisional super-fight and the real decider of who is the best fighter at 108lbs.
(Image courtesy of boxrec.com)