MANILA – Negrense Donnie Nietes was pushed to the limit before escaping with a split decision win over Japanese Kazuto Ioka to capture the WBO World super flyweight title on Monday night at the Wynn Palace in Macau, China.
It was the fourth world championship for the Murcia, Negros Occidental native in as many divisions making him third Filipino boxer to achieve the feat along with Manny Pacquiao and Nonito Donaire Jr.
Nietes secured the world championship after garnering 118-110 and 116-112 scores from judges Levi Martinez and Patricia Morse Jarman. Samuel Nieto had it 116-112 for Ioka.
It was the 36-year-old Nietes’ second attempt to capture the championship after his world title bout with fellow Negrense Aston Palicte last September in US ended in a draw.
Nietes started strong as he unloaded a couple of lefts on Ioka in the opening round. Ioka tried to pressure Nietes in the succeeding rounds but the Filipino targeted the Japanese’s head and body with left and right hits.
Ioka changed his game from sixth round onwards by circling and coming in and out on Nietes. The Negrense fighter countered with jabs but Ioka got his best punch in the 10th when he tagged Nietes with a big left cross to the head.
Knowing that the win is not yet in the bag for him, Nietes came out aggressive in the last two rounds when he connected consecutive straights on Ioka. The Japanese attempted to make a late run but was not enough to sway the judges.
With the victory, Nietes has improved his boxing record to 42-1-5 win-loss-draw card, including 23 knockout wins, while the 29-year-old Ioka dropped his slate to 23-2-0 win-loss-draw card, with 13 stoppage wins./PN