Donny Nietes (left) of the Philippines and Mexico's Moises Fuentes fought to a Majority Draw in the main event of Pinoy Pride 18 fight night in Cebu City. Photograph: James Goyder/Phnom Penh Post
Saturday night’s Pinoy Pride 18 in Cebu City was billed as being ‘Champion vs Champion’ and both Donny Nietes and Moises Fuentes finished the night with the same world titles they started it with as their 12-round fight was ruled a majority draw.
Nietes retains his WBO light flyweight belt as a result of the verdict, while Fuentes will return to Mexico with his WBO minimumweight belt, which was not on the line. Two of the judges ruled the bout a 114-114 draw with the third having it 115-114 in favour of the Filipino.
In front of a sold out house at the Cebu Waterfront Hotel and Casino, Nietes, who is based at the nearby ALA Gym, had the fans on their feet towards the end of round five when he landed a series of right hands that left Fuentes on wobbly legs and with a potentially broken nose.
The Mexican, who despite moving up in weight for this fight, had a significant advantage in terms of height and reach but would have been relieved to hear the final bell. He came out swinging in the sixth and cut Nietes above both eyes, one with a punch and the other with an accidental headbutt.
Throughout the fight the defending champion showcased outstanding defensive skills, ducking and diving and repeatedly frustrating Fuentes with his movement. But, with blood pouring from a wound above his eye, Nietes became content to simply make his opponent miss without attempting to counter himself.
Fuentes kept pressing forward and, while Nietes was able to either elude or absorb the vast majority of his shots, the momentum was firmly with the Mexican going into the final four rounds of the fight. The Filipino finally injected some much needed urgency in rounds nine and 10, and the crowd came to life sensing their fighter’s position was potentially improving on the scorecards.
In the final round, Fuentes was on the front foot, as he had been for much of the fight, but Nietes was boxing beautifully by this stage, using his footwork and head movement to make the Mexican at times look a little lugubrious.
Both men felt they had done enough to win but the fight finished in a majority draw. Fuentes’s entourage, which included Mexican legend Marco Antonio Barrera, was incensed but WBO supervisor Leon Panicello was adamant that justice had been done.
"It was a very close fight and it could have gone either way, it was definitely not a hometown decision. When you see a draw or a one point difference on the scorecards you know it was a very close fight," said Panicello.
It was a good night for Nietes’s ALA Boxing Gym team-mates as Genesis Servania improved to 19-0 with a stoppage win over Indonesian veteran Angky Angkotta, while Jimrex Jaca overwhelmed resilient Thai fighter Rachamongkol Sor Pleonchit.
In other Southeast Asian boxing news, Pungluang Sor Singyu lost the WBO bantamweight world title he had claimed by beating AJ Banal at Pinoy Pride 17 last year after a decision loss at the hands of Paulus Ambunda in Namibia on Saturday night.