|Donnie Nietes ends 2018 as a world champion. HBO (file photo)|
By Ivan Saldajeno
MANILA--The year 2018 ended on a high note for Philippine sports as a local boxer became the latest world champion.
Donnie Nietes is once again a world champ after defeating Kazuto Ioka for the vacant World Boxing Organization super flyweight title at the Wynn Palace in Macau right on the final night of the year.
Nietes got the belt on his second try as he bounced back from his failure to capture the championship against Aston Palicte in an all-Filipino bout at the Great Western Forum in Inglewood on Sept. 9 (Philippine Time) that ended in a split draw.
But similar to how the judges scored the Nietes-Palicte, the Nietes-Ioka bout ended up in a split decision, although Nietes got the better this time.
In a back-and-forth action that saw both pugs having their own share of good rounds, Nietes emerged victorious after getting the nod of two of the judges.
The two judges who saw Nietes winning gave out 118-110 and 116-112 scorecards respectively, while the other judge had it 116-112 Ioka.
Nietes became the third Filipino four-division world champion, joining an elite club that only had Manny Pacquiao and Nonito Donaire in it prior to Monday night.
Nietes remains unbeaten as well in his last 35 fights dating back to 2004.
Ioka lost for just the second time in his career, seeing his nine-game winning streak come to an end.
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