Whilst we could speak wonderful words about the year we've had it needs to be noted that the year hasn't been great for everyone, as our Downfall fighter of the Year, will attest to.
Strangely it's been a bad year for a number of Filipino fighters, we say strangely because it's been the Filipino's have also collected more upset wins than pretty much any other country. Their upsets have sadly just covered what has been a rather frustrating year for a number of other fighters from the Pearl of the Orient. Though they certainly aren't alone in having year's to forget.
Among the men who will want to scrub 2019 from their collective memories are:
Aston Palicte - Went 0-2 for the year
Mercito Gesta - Went 0-1-1 for the year
Milan Melindo - Went 0-1 for the year
Mark John Yap - Went 1-2 for the year
Ricky Sismundo - Went 0-3 for the year (though was matched incredibly hard)
Taiki Minamoto - Went 0-1-1 for the year
Reiya Abe - Went 1-1-1 for the year
Ryota Yada - Went 1-2 for the year
Srisaket Sor Rungvisai - Went 0-1 for the year
Knockout CP Freshmart - Went 1-0 for the year (whilst being a world champion!)
Despite all the fighters above who will want to forget 2019, either for results or for inactivity, looking at you Knockout CP Freshmart!, there is one man who really does need some extra attention. That is Donnie Nietes.
Nietes began 2019 as the WBO Super Flyweight champion, having come off an controversial win over Kazuto Ioka on New Year's Eve. It seemed almost certain that that title was going to lead him to a big fight, potentially a unification bout or the long anticipated showdown with Roman Gonzalez. Instead however he vacated the title in spring, citing the pursuit of bigger fights. Had he just vacated and retired it would have been the perfect end for his career, a truly legendary career. Instead the idea that he was chasing bigger fights left the idea he was still an active fighter, ready for a super fight, a final show down.
We waited for Nietes to fight. We continued to wait. The months rolled by and nothing, no fights, no news, just silence. By the end of 2019 Nietes had vacated the title and done nothing. Well, we guess got a tattoo, but that's been it. A real waste of a year for a man who is far too old to get away with a year of ring rust.
Sorry Donnie but this year, you really did mess up, just as it seemed something big could have been on the horizon.
After some early speculation it's been revealed that the Filipino has told the WBO that he wishes to vacated the title to pursue career defining fights, and chase big bouts only, rather than rematch fellow Filipino Aston Palicte (25-2-1, 21), who he had been ordered to face in a mandatory defense. There had long been talk about the bout not being likely, with Nietes not expected to take the option of facing Palicte and instead looking at other potential options, including a bout with Roman Gonzalez, and it's now clear that bout with Palicte is not taking place.
Interestingly the next highest ranked available contender with the WBO, so Palicte's likely foe for a vacant title, is Kazuto Ioka (23-2, 13) [井岡一翔]. Ioka lost to Nietes, in a razor thin decision in December, and is said to be eyeing a Spring return, so Ioka Vs Palicte could be the fall out from Nietes's possible decision, and would certainly be a very, very good bout.
Again things haven't been confirmed, and at the moment this more rumour and speculation than anything else, but it's educated guess work.
Interestingly the rumours circulating from Nicaragua is that Roman Gonzalez may also be heading into retirement, which could well have played a part in Nietes' decision regarding his future.
EDIT / UPDATE -
Following this being posted it's been revealed that Nietes and ALA have sent letters to the WBO to confirm that their plan is to only have career defining bouts his, given that Nietes is 37 in May, and have thanked the WBO for their support through out Nietes' career.
Earlier this month the WBO ordered negotiations for a mandatory title fight between WBO Super Flyweight world champion Donnie Nietes (42-1-5, 23) and mandatory challenger Aston Palicte (25-2-1, 21).
The WBO gave the teams from both men 15 days to sort a deal, and yesterday announced that a deal hadn't been reached, so they were ordering a purse bid for the bout.
The purse bid is now set to take place on February 28th in San Juan, with a minimum bid of $100,000.
The bout will be a second meeting between the two men, who fought to a draw last year. Following their draw both men have picked up a win, with Nietes defeating Kazuto Ioka to win the title, and become a 4-weight champion, and Palicte beating Jose Martinez to become the mandatory challenger for the belt.
Last week Filipino puncher Aston Palicte (25-2-1, 21) battered Puerto Rican Jose Martinez (20-1-2, 13), in just 2 rounds, in a WBO Super Flyweight world title eliminator to net himself a mandatory title fight.
Despite the fact that bout took place less than a week ago the WBO have already ordered Palicte, and his team, to begin negotiations with WBO world champion Donnie Nietes (42-1-5, 23), who will be making his first defense.
The WBO, as per their letter to the teams of the two men, have got 15 days to come to a deal or purse bids will be ordered, with a minimum bid of $100,000 (USD).
This will be the second bout between the two men, who fought to a controversial draw last year, and is set to be the third all-Filipino world title bout within the space of just a couple of years follow over a break of over 90 years between all-Filipino world title bouts.
We've included the WBO's letter to the teams above.
(Image obviously courtesy of the WBO)
On December 31st we had a WBO Super Flyweight world title bout that saw Donnie Nietes (42-1-5, 23) take a razor thin decision over between Kazuto Ioka (23-2, 13) [井岡一翔]. Following the bout there was some question marks about Ioka's future. Thankfully it appears that his future is to remain active and that there are options on the table for the former 3 weight world champion, though nothing is set in stone for his next bout.
According to the Japanese boxing media Ioka could return in March in the US as part of Superfly 4, which is expected to take place in LA or New York, or he could fight in Japan, also in the Spring, with another world title bout being eyed for the Japanese fighter before the end of the year.
It seems like his team haven't ruled out trying to secure a rematch with Nietes, or pursuing fights with any of the other 3 champions, Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, Jerwin Ancajas and Kal Yafai.
Ioka himself stated that he would continue, and that his challenge is to become a 4 weight champion.
At the moment Ioka is stuck with a few things. The broadcaster of the first 3 Superfly shows, HBO, have left boxing leaving him without a US broadcaster and he's currently unable to fight in Japan due to his licensing situation, though that could be changed relatively easily in the future. TBS are known to back him, and back him strongly, and getting a fight on US soil would secure TBS a good ratings success, for what would be his first bout in the country since 2017. Likewise their nothing stopping the Superfly series from being picked up by one of the numerous other platforms entering the boxing market, such as DAZN or ESPN+
News! We try and give you the most interesting news stories from the Asian boxing world!