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In a very rare occasion, a Filipino fighter will once again try to win a world title on Philippine soil come Saturday, October 8th, 2011 at the La Salle Gym in Bacolod City. Former WBO minimumweight champion Donnie “Ahas” Nietes (28-1, 16 KOs) will attempt to make a mark in his first title bout in the light flyweight division against WBO light flyweight titleholder Ramon Garcia Hirales (16-2-1, 9 KOs) of Mexico.

Nietes has never dropped a bout since losing in 2004 and is currently riding a 15-fight winning streak. Along the way, Nietes registered four successful title defenses, three of which were held in Mexico. He also holds the sole distinction of being the only Filipino to achieve such feat.

Donnie Nietes is the heavy favorite against Ramon Garcia Hirales in Pinoy Pride 9.

Garcia, on the other hand, is no pushover. A very mean puncher with an offensive mindset, Garcia is bent on destroying Nietes and regaining Mexican honor that were lost when his upcoming opponent blitzed through the best fighters Mexico has to offer. And looking at Garcia’s resume, victories over big names such as Omar Soto, Johnriel Casimero, and Jesus Geles, it is very hard to look over this Mexcan warrior.

In the ninth installment of the Pinoy Pride series, flashes of pugilistic brilliance and raw violence are almost certainly guaranteed. The very refined Nietes will certainly give this match a tactical approach, while Hirales, not known for superb ring craft, will look to press the fight to his Filipino challenger and muscle his way in to land those vaunted power shots.

Power. While both men have considerable advantages when it comes to the pop in their fists, Nietes clearly has the advantage in this very crucial department. Judging from their last five fights, the Filipino dynamo scored two stoppages to Garcia’s lone entry. Both men have not tasted a defeat via the short route,a testament to both fighter’s ability to withstand power shots to the chin. But if this fight is all about power, Nietes will have the slight advantage.

Advantage: Nietes

Stamina. Nietes and Garcia have shown that they can go the full length of a title bout. This means both men have enough gas in their tanks to still operate during the critical championship rounds. But more props to Nietes for having more bouts that went until the final bell, 16 fights to Garcia’s 9.

Advantage: Nietes

Experience: Nietes is a 32-fight veteran and have held the WBO minimumweight crown for three years before relinquishing it prior to this upcoming bout with Garcia. Nietes have a 5-0 slate in championship matches, giving him the edge in experience against Garcia, who will be defending his title for the first time, which is basically his second world title fight.

Advantage: Nietes

WBO light flyweight champion Ramon Garcia Hirales is no pushover.

Skills. Nietes boasts of a wide array of offensive and defensive skills, along with his very technical approach. Garcia, although he has demonstrated some hints of boxing technique, is not as refined as Nietes. But if this goes down into a brawl, Garcia will certainly have the upper hand. Having said that, the Filipino prizefighter is not known to mix it up too often and prefers to pepper opponents with precise punching and combinations rather than slug it out. But Nietes can trade and when he does, it will be everybody’s ball game.

Advantage: Nietes

The only thing that might work against Nietes, JUST MIGHT, will be fighting in front of his home crowd. Cheers from the crowd can have the best effect for the hometown fighter. But sometimes, the pressure to win can be too much and for the very inexperienced fighter, adulation can sometimes pushes the fighter to the brink of over eagerness and excitement.

It really takes tons of mental focus to keep the crowd out and stay in the fight. And if a slight dip in concentration occurs, that is certainly a big window of opportunity for the opposing side, should he sense and act on it.

But knowing Nietes and his brand of focus, this fight is almost a shutout.

Prediction. This fight is not going to be a slambang affair but rather a very tactical match as Nietes will try to break down Garcia from a distance and use his superiority in ring general ship to dictate the pace. Garcia will also be wary of Nietes’s power and this will also result to the Mexican being cautious as well.

A hard unanimous decision win for the Bacolod City fighter.

Photo credits: GMA News, Philippine Index

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Kenneth P. Ragpala is an award-winning sports blogger who has been covering the sport of boxing since 2008. His works have appeared in local newspapers in his home city in Cagayan de Oro and in several online publications abroad. Ragpala has written for several boxing websites, namely Fight Hype, 8 Count News, and Bleacher Report.