CEBU CITY — Facing impending doom, Donnie Nietes rallied in the last two rounds late Saturday night but his efforts went for naught, settling for a 12-round majority draw against Mexican banger Moises Fuentes in their World Boxing Organization (WBO) light-flyweight title match here.
Nietes, bleeding profusely from cuts on his eyebrows, put on his dancing shoes to keep his hold on the WBO 108-pound crown.
Being the champion, Nietes automatically keeps the championship, but he and his team and the big crowd thought he had done enough to earn the decision.
Filipino judge Danrex Tapdasan scored it 115-113 for Nietes, while Adalaide Byrd and Pat Russell, both from the US, both saw it 114-114. The Bulletin had it 115-113 for Nietes, who was making the second defense of the title he won in late-2011.
“I thought I landed the clearer punches,” said the 31-year-old Nietes, who was mobbed by fans after the fight.
Nietes, shorter by almost six inches at 5-2, did connect the cleaner blows and evaded the 26-year-old Fuentes’ wild shots by employing side-to-side movements.
In the first round, Nietes had the audience on its feet after landing his favorite right on Fuentes’ face.
Sensing that Nietes was gaining confidence, Fuentes shifted his game plan and went on the attack but the Filipino stressed that he blocked majority of the punches using his arms.
But it didn’t take long before his efforts paid off and Fuentes opened a cut on Nietes, thanks to a legitimate blow and an accidental clash of heads.
Nietes would later confess that the cut bothered him.
“I could not properly see because of the blood. At times I thought I was up against four men,” he said.
Fuentes took advantage and appeared to have succeeded as Nietes circled the ring and hardly threw meaningful punches especially in the 10th round, leaving the crowd worried sick of what might happen next.
But Nietes altered his strategy to avoid getting hit squarely, enabling him to remain on his feet and at the same time land occasional blows until the final bell sounded.
“The two blind mice,” said an obviously piqued Tony Aldeguer, who manages and promotes Nietes, one of four reigning Filipino world champions, referring to Byrd and Russell.
In a slugfest, Jimrex Jaca of the Philippines stopped Sor Pleonchit of Thailand in the seventh round of their super-lightweight match set for ten rounds.
Hot prospect Genesis Servania, meanwhile, remained unbeaten in 19 fights after scoring a seventh-round stoppage over Indonesian Angky Angkota in their super-bantam encounter.