Donnie Nietes happy to be back, targets big names in super flyweight division

Donnie Nietes surprised the boxing world in 2019 when he relinquished the WBO super flyweight title. The longest-reigning Filipino world champion in history picked up the belt with a split decision victory against Japan's Kazuto Ioka on New Year's Eve 2018 in Macau. It was Nietes' second attempt at the vacant title after he failed to grab it a few months earlier with a draw against fellow Filipino fighter Aston Palicte.

The first title defense of Nietes would have been against Palicte but he decided that there was no point in having the rematch, which led to his decision to vacate the title and try to get a fight against bigger names in the division as Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, Khalid Yafai, or even IBF champion Jerwin Ancajas.

Unfortunately for Nietes, the gamble did not pay off. Ioka battled Palicte to pick up the WBO belt while Nietes stayed inactive on the sidelines.

The former four-division world champion will finally end his prolonged break with a fight against Colombia's Pablo Carrillo in Dubai this Saturday.

The fight card will take place at the Caesars Palace Dubai under D4G Promotions and will be headlined by Jamel Herring defending his WBO super featherweight belt against former two-division champion Carl Frampton.

"I'm very happy to fight for the first time since 2018," Nietes said in the undercard press conference Thursday afternoon.

"After my last fight in 2018, I really did not want Palicte. I did not want another Filipino versus Filipino fight. After two years, it's the perfect time to come back with the help of MTK Global and D4G Promotions."

Nietes said he stayed in good shape as he has been training consistently under Edmund and Edito Villamor even after ALA Promotions closed its doors back in August largely due to the pandemic.

"I really wanted a chance to fight the great fighters in my division. Chocolatito (Roman Gonzalez), (Juan Francisco) Estrada, and Sor Rungvisai. I received a great offer and that's why I came back."

The 38-year-old Nietes (42-1-5, 23 KOs) knows that Carrillo is no pushover because of his power as the Colombian has 16 knockouts in his 25 wins. However, Nietes is confident that he has enough knowledge of Carrillo's game plan as they both have fought a couple of opponents.

"He's fought some of my opponents before so I'm familiar with his fighting style," Nietes said pointing to Ioka and Francisco Rodriguez, Jr. Carrillo lost to Ioka via decision and to Rodriguez via stoppage while Nietes decisioned both.

"His last fight has also been a while back so we're both hungry to fight," Nietes added. Carrillo was also unable to fight in 2020 with his last match being a stoppage win against Luis Golindano in August of 2019.

"I'm very excited to be in Dubai and excited to fight a great champion in Donnie but I'm also a champion and I'm hungry," Carrillo said. "My past fights have prepared me for this fight but I've stayed hungry. I'm grateful for the opportunity to fight here and it's going to be an exciting fight. I'm looking forward to fighting Donnie."