By Nick Giongco
Four-division champion Donnie Nietes made one of the most difficult decisions of his life Friday when he opted to vacate the World Boxing Organization (WBO) super-flyweight throne so he can pursue a career-defining fight.
Mandated by the Puerto Rico-based WBO to face fellow Filipino Aston Palicte, Nietes informed the boxing body in writing that he will instead look to land a marquee matchup with the 115-lb division’s big names.
“It took me a long time to think about this difficult decision but I feel that every fight for me at this stage of my career is crucial for my future,” said Nietes in a letter addressed to WBO president Paco Valcarcel.
“I have long been dreaming to have a career-defining fight. There is not much time left for me in this sport at 37 years old,” said Nietes, who turns 37 on May 12.
Nietes’s heartbreaking decision came on the day the WBO was set to hold a purse bid for the Nietes-Palicte showdown.
The starting bid was pegged at $100,000.
Nietes feels that facing Palicte again won’t prove anything more as he showed last year that he was the superior fighter even if the 12-rounder for the WBO crown was ruled a draw.
To make up for what looked like an injustice dealt to Nietes, the WBO allowed him to vie for the same crown against Kazuto Ioka of Japan on New Year’s Eve 2018.
Nietes beat Ioka but the WBO had made or clear that the winner should meet the survivor of a title eliminator featuring Palicte and Puerto Rican Jose Martinez that Palicte won last month.
Still, Nietes doesn’t see a rematch with Palicte, whose hometown of Bago City is 30 kilometers from Nietes’ birthplace of Murcia, as a landmark fight.