As a part of HBO’s third installment of their Super Fly series, Donnie Nietes (40-1-5, 23 KO) was denied his fourth world title against Aston Palicte (24-2-1, 20 KO) via an egregious draw turned in by the ringside judges.
Nothing close to a barnburner, Nietes maintained optimum range against his younger countryman, an extraordinarily tall fighter for the division. The same calculated approach that defined Nietes’ successful career from Minimumweight to Flyweight saw the three-divisional champion overcome a five-inch height and three-inch reach disadvantage only to go home on one of the worst decision in recent memory.
It was a feeling-out process for the first two rounds, where only a handful of jabs were exchanged. By the third, Nietes was entirely comfortable closing the range with hooks and right crosses. Whereas the three-divisional champion normally spams a tremendous jab, tonight his punches had a little more venom to them. Nietes jogged off most of the clock in Round 4 and Palicte took the opportunity to earn an advantage in power punches.
In the fifth stanza, Nietes was back to work. The Pinoy boxer planted overhand rights, and one-two combos up and down Palicte’s large target. Palicte controlled the center of the ring but was befuddled by the veteran’s movement and ate stiff hooks.
No significant punches were exchanged in Round 7 and Palicte had completely slowed down by the ninth.
Nietes took the final three rounds with singular counterpunching that drew boos from the crowd. But the inactivity somehow convinced the judges to hand over far too many points to an overmatched Palicte.
A glance at CompuBox hardly reflected a close contest. Nietes landed 194 of 523 total punches (37 percent) and 112 of 281 power shots (40 percent) while Palicte connected on 124 of 830 total punches (15 percent) and 89 of 423 power punches (21 percent).
Kazuto Ioka Defeats McWilliams Arroyo
Fighting for the first time outside of Japan, Kazuto Ioka made many new fans outworking McWilliams Arroyo. He had a real fighter in front of him but it only made his performance that much more impressive following a 17-month layoff.
Ioka paid close attention to his opponent’s midsection, roasting both sides of Arroyo’s ribs. Arroyo loosened up in the middle stages of the 10-round fight, ripping through Ioka’s high guard here and there. But Ioka demonstrated layers to his gameplan, knocking Arroyo down in Round 3 at the end of a 1-2 combination.
Arroyo controlled the center of ring for the first half of the bout, stuffing uppercut flurries into a crouching Ioka. The Japanese multi-weight champion attacked the body before the right hand that earned the only knockdown of the fight.
Both men threw down in Round 8, exchanging on the inside. Ioka answered his man in the next round, overpowering him, highlighted by a level-change feint into a vicious left hook.
According to CompuBox, Ioka landed 254 of 797 total punches (32 percent) and Arroyo connected on 159 of 888 (22 percent).
Photos by Ed Mulholland/HBO