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I will KO Nietes: Velarde

I will KO Nietes: Velarde

By Edri K. Aznar

Sunstar Cebu

CHALLENGER Carlos Velarde is undoubtedly a huge underdog coming into his world title bout against the division’s king, Donnie Nietes, this Saturday night at the Waterfront Hotel and Casino.

But it won’t be an issue for the young Velarde (26-3-1, 14 KOs), because he believes that he has what it takes to score a huge upset.

“I’m prepared to knock him out. But I know this is a hard fight,” said the 24-year-old Velarde in a presser yesterday at the Rajah Park Hotel.

A lot is on the line for Nietes (33-1-4, 19 KOs) against Velarde in the main event of Pinoy Pride 28 – “History in the Making” – his World Boxing Organization (WBO) light flyweight strap and The Ring Magazine light flyweight belt along with his goal of beating the 47-year-old record of the late great Gabriel “Flash” Elorde’s record as the longest reigning Filipino world champion .

The 32-year-old Nietes is coming off the biggest win of his career, a knockout win over one of the division’s finest Moises Fuentes in May.

Velarde said he highly respects Nietes’ accomplishments in the sport but he feels that in a fight nothing is definite and anything can happen.

“I saw his fight. Fuentes is a great fighter but Nietes got the best of him in the second round. Nietes is more experienced and it was his advantage against Fuentes. But in the ring nothing is written, I came here to fight and each fight is different,” he said.

Saul Juarez (20-3, 11 KOs) promised an exhilarating bout with former world title challenger Milan Melindo (31-1, 12 KOs) in a 12-round International Boxing Federation (IBF) light flyweight title eliminator in the co-main event.

“It will be a war. It will be a great fight,” said the 23-year-old Mexican, who is rated No 4 in the World Boxing Association (WBA) and No. 8 in the.

A title shot is at stake for this fight because the winner gains mandatory status and crack at the IBF light flyweight strap currently held by Mexican Javier Mendoza.

Raul Hirales (22-3-1, 11 KOs) is also looking to hand fast-rising unbeaten prospect Albert Pagara (21-0, 15 KOs) his first career defeat and unseat him as the IBF Inter-Continental super bantamweight champion.

“I don’t know much about him. All I know is that he is young and strong. I usually upset my opponents and I plan to bring that belt back home to Mexico,” said the 30-year-old veteran.

One of the four Mexicans that are here to fight on Saturday is IBF and WBO mini-flyweight king Francisco Rodriguez (16-2, 11 KOs).

The 21-year-old will test a heavier weight division in a tune-up fight against last-minute replacement Jomar Fajardo (14-5-1, 7 KOs).

“I became the best and I’m moving up in weight looking to fight world champions in the future,” said Rodriguez, who beat Merlito Sabillo and Katsunari Takayami for his twin world titles.

Francisco was supposed to fight former world title challenger Vergilio Silvano, but somehow that fight was changed.

Sabillo, AJ “Bazooka” Banal and unbeaten prospect Mark Magsayo are also seeing action in what is the biggest Pinoy Pride event to date.

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