Earlier today in the Filipino press we saw WBO Light Flyweight champion Donnie Nietes (34-1-4, 20) being linked to fights with several Asian fighters for his next defense, scheduled for March 28th, and it was a huge hint that much mooted bout with Francisco Rodriguez Jr (16-2-1, 11) wouldn't be happening, at least for now. The story, reported by the Sunstar in the Philippines, has come after Nietes long term promoter, and the head of ALA Promotions, Michael Aldeguer, was quoted as saying:
“It’s a voluntary title defense. We are looking at someone from Asia. Maybe a Japanese ranked fighter as boxing in Japan recently is doing well. Donnie has been fighting a lot of Mexican fighters already so maybe this time an opponent from Asia as boxing has become more popular because of China,”
Whilst the quote is a little bit confusing in that it hints to China and Japan it does leave us with a very interesting selection fighters, as per the most recent WBO rankings.
Ideally the best choice would be Thailand's Paipharob Kokietgym (27-0, 20) who is currently ranked #2 and has, apparently, had his team make contact with Nietes. This is a fight that we really do like the look of though suspect ALA wouldn't be fans of given that Paipharob is unbeaten, heavy handed and not the type of guy that fighters want to fight unless they have to. It would however be a compelling contest and one that makes sense if Nietes is wanting to prove himself.
Paipharob isn't the only Thai ranked by the WBO but he is the only "realistic" option from Thailand with the unbeaten Petchchorhae Kokietgym (10-0, 7), the WBO #14, being a very unlikely option, especially considering his level of competition so far.
The second highest ranked Asian in the WBO rankings is a Filipino, Jonathan Taconing (20-2-1, 17). Ranked #7 Taconing is one 3 ranked challengers from the Philippines and would make for a sensational opponent for Nietes. Taconing is heavy handed, aggressive and exciting and should make for a compelling bout with Nietes, a much better "boxer". Sadly however this bout looks unlikely with Taconing now expected to go the WBC route and move towards a fight with Pedro Guevara however it is certainly possible for him to go this way and give us an all Filipino bout that would guarantee fireworks.
A second Filipino option would be Rommel Asenjo (26-3, 20), ranked #11 by the WBO. Whilst this would look good on paper it's not a bout that would interest us as Asenjo isn't as good as his ranking suggests, and in his only would title fight so far he came up very short, being stopped in 3 by Raul Garcia. On the world scene Asenjo doesn't seem to have it, though he is entertaining and exciting.
The final Filipino option would be the WBO #14 ranked Benezer Alolod (16-5-5, 5), who struggled in December to beat domestic rival Renren Tesorio. Alolod is a more interesting fight than Asenjo and although he was stopped in 9 rounds by Nkosinathi Joyi, he does hold a couple of notable wins including a 7th round technical decision win over Rey Loreto and a 3rd round retirement victory over one time OPBF title contender Jerson Mancio. Those wins however wouldn't make very confident in Mancio being able to be competitive with Nietes.
Going back to Adeguer's statement regarding Japanese and Chinese challengers it's worth noting that both countries have a fighter ranked.
From China we have #9 contender Ma Yi Ming (12-5, 7) who has one of those confusing records. Ming began his career in 2007 and quickly fell to 3-5, including a trio of stoppage losses in his first 3 bouts. Since then however he has scored 7 straight wins, including a notable one this past December against Tommy Seran. Although he is "streaking", so to speak, he has been fighting at a low level and his ranking has been artificially enhanced by the fact he has been holding vario WBO titles over the years, including the WBO China Zone Flyweight title and the WBO Asia Pacific Light Flyweight title, which he won against Seran.
As for Japan their ranked contender is the #10 ranked Yu Kimura (15-2-1, 2). Kimura is the Japanese national champion and has been eyeing up an opportunity for a world title fight in recent months. On paper he's a much better challenger than Ming and has won at a higher level, with wins over Kenichi Horikawa and Yuki Chinen. He is also a proven tough guy and his most notable loss so far with a TKO loss to current WBA champion Ryoichi Taguchi. On paper this would be our "third choice" if bouts with Paipharob and Taconing cannot be made, though we suspect this may be a perfect choice for ALA and it would allow Nietes to be compared to Taguchi.
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