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Nietes, Viloria to spar at Wild Card

By: Joaquin Henson,

IBF flyweight champion Donnie Nietes will likely spar with former IBF/WBC lightflyweight and WBA/WBO flyweight titlist Brian Viloria at the Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles as they prepare to face tough opponents on the same HBO Boxing After Dark card at the Forum in Inglewood, California, on Feb. 24.

Nietes left Manila for L. A. last Saturday with trainers Edito and Edmund Villamor. He will stake his IBF crown for the first time against No. 1 contender Juan Carlos Reveco of Argentina while Viloria will dispute the vacant WBA flyweight throne with Ukraine’s Artem Dalakian.

HBO will open its telecast with Nietes’ defense then Mexico’s Carlos Cuadras will take on Puerto Rico’s McWilliam Arroyo in a superflyweight tenner and in the main event, WBC 115-pound ruler Srisaket Sor Rungvisai of Thailand will battle Mexico’s Juan Francisco Estrada in a 12-rounder. Viloria’s fight will not be included in the HBO coverage but his Los Angeles manager Gary Gittelsohn is arranging to beam it live via satellite to the Philippines.

Nietes, 35, hasn’t seen action since outpointing Thailand’s Komrich Nantapech for the vacant IBF 112-pound title in Cebu City last April. Reveco, 34, is a former WBA lightflyweight and flyweight titleholder. Like Nietes, his latest victim was Nantapech whom he beat on points in General Alvear, Argentina, last September. Nietes has an unbeaten streak of 32 fights since losing a split decision to Angky Angkota in Jakarta in 2004. His record is 40-1, with 22 KOs compared to Reveco’s 39-3, with 19 KOs.

“It’s the goal for Nietes over the years to fight on huge events in the US after he broke Flash Elorde’s record and when he won his third world title,” said Nietes’ manager and ALA Boxing president Michael Aldeguer. “This is his dream to fight on the biggest stage. We promoted Nietes twice in L. A. and now to be part of the HBO telecast should be a huge boost to his already legendary career.” Nietes has eclipsed Elorde’s record as the longest reigning Filipino world champion, traversing three weight divisions since 2007 up to now. Elorde ruled only the junior lightweight division from 1960 to 1967.

Aldeguer said he expects Nietes and Viloria to spar at the Wild Card Gym “to help each other like they did before.” The Villamor brothers will coordinate Nietes’ workouts with Viloria’s trainer and Freddie Roach’s chief assistant Marvin Somodio.

Edito Villamor said Nietes and Reveco are mirror images of each other. “Maganda ang laban nila kasi parehas silang boxing style,” said Villamor. “Matibay at malakas si Reveco who’s a former two-division world champion. Kailangan focus lang sa game plan.” Villamor said Nietes sparred with former IBF lightflyweight titlist Milan Melindo and unbeaten superflyweight K. J. Cataraja before leaving for L. A.

Villamor said Nietes walks around at 125 pounds and shouldn’t find it difficult to trim down to 112 for his defense against Reveco. He disclosed that the plan is for Nietes to eventually invade the superflyweight ranks where there are potential big money fights against the likes of Srisaket, Cuadras, Estrada and Chocolatito Gonzalez. HBO is investing in the superflyweight division as an exciting battleground of highly-competitive marquee fighters and Nietes hopes to join the derby.

Photo: Brian Viloria (L) and Donnie Nietes pose for a photo during a break of their workout at the Wildcard Gym in Los Angeles, California ahead of their upcoming world title fights on Feb. 24 at The Forum in nearby Ingglewood.

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