Nietes and Sabillo take their turn Sat
WBO world light flyweight champ Donnie “Ahas” Nietes and WBO minimumweight champ Merlito “Tigre” Sabillo will have a tough act to follow on Nov. 30 when they defend their belts in the co-main event of Pinoy Pride 23 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
While the rest of the country is still euphoric over Manny Pacquiao’s huge win last Sunday, the duo are in their final stages of preparations for their title defenses.
Nietes’ challenger, Sammy Gutierrez of Mexico, arrived in Manila with his team on Nov. 23. Carlos Buitrago and his team arrived from Nicaragua one day later.
Nietes (31-1-4, 17KOs), who previously held the WBO world minimumweight title, has been a world champ since 2007. Gutierrez (33-9-2, 23 KO’s) is a former WBC Silver king and former WBA interim world minimumweight ruler.
Sabillo (23-0, 12 KOs) and Buitrago (27-0, 16 KOs) promises to be a crowd pleasing battle between two unbeaten fighters. Both champs train in the ALA gym of Cebu and it will be their turn to dedicate their bouts to their countrymen still reeling from two recent natural calamities.
The camps of the Latino opponents for the undercard bouts are also here in the country.
Milan Melindo will try to bounce back from his first career loss when he battles Jose Alfredo Rodriguez of Mexico. Melindo (29-1, 12 KO’s) lost a unanimous decision to WBO/WBA flyweight champion Juan Francisco Estrada in Macau last July.
Rodriguez (29-2, 18 KO’s) is also coming off title losses against WBA jr. flyweight champ Kazuto Ioka of Japan and WBA interim titlist Alberto Rossel of Peru.
Jason Pagara (31-2, 19 KOs) is coming off a hard fought unanimous decision win over Aaron Herrera last May. His opponent, Vladimir Baez (19-1-2, 17 KOs) of the Dominican Republic, scored back to back knockout wins this year against Jose Santos and Jose Manzueta.
AJ Banal (29-2-2, 21 KOs) will face Puerto Rican Lucian Gonzales (16-7-2, 5KOs).
Tickets for Pinoy Pride XXIII: Filipinos Kontra Latinos are available at all TicketNet outlets.
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