New WBO World Champion Donnie Nietes joins Pacquiao, Donaire in elite company


Manny Pacquiao, Nonito Donaire Jr., and now Donnie Nietes.

Nietes joins a short list of Filipino boxers to have world titles in at least four divisions, capping off 2018 with a split decision victory over Kazuto Ioka to win the vacant WBO junior bantamweight title at the Wynn Palace Cotai in Macau.

Two judges scored the fight for Nietes, 118-110 and 116-112, while the third had it 116-112 for Ioka, whose own bid to become a four-division champion was foiled in the defeat.

Nietes, 36, of Murcia, Philippines controlled the fight early on, walking Ioka into counterpunches with his uppercut and right hand. Ioka, 29, of Osaka, Japan made the adjustment of moving in the fifth round, forcing the fighter known as “Ahas”, or Snake, to come forward. The adjustment paid off as Nietes, who had been pinpoint accurate early on, began falling short with his counters and Ioka took advantage of his speed edge and landed to the body.

Nietes began finding his range again in the eleventh as Ioka stayed in close and traded more, giving Nietes opportunities to land with his right hand and hook.

Donnie Nietes has done it! Nietes wins a split decision over Kazuto Ioka by scores of 118-110 and 116-112, while the third has it 116-112 for Ioka. Nietes joins Pacquiao and Donaire as the only Filipino boxers to win world titles in 4 weight classes

With the win, Nietes (42-1-5, 23 knockouts) adds to his belt collection which includes the WBO titles at 105 and 108 pounds, the Ring title at 108, and the IBF belt at 112 pounds. The victory concludes off a breakout year for Nietes which started with him making his HBO debut in his 18th year as a professional, and making it to the Ring pound-for-pound list, where he’s currently ranked no. 10.

Nietes had been denied the 115-pound title in his first attempt with a controversial draw against Aston Palicte in September.

Ioka (23-2, 13 KOs) loses for the first time in four years, snapping a nine-fight winning streak after his loss, also by split decision, to Amnat Ruenroeng.