Rex Tso lets world title chance slip through his fingers as Donnie Nietes lands all-Filipino fight with Aston Palicte
Hong Kong’s Wonder Kid should have been fighting for the WBO super flyweight world title but instead two Filipinos will get the chance for glory in August
It was supposed to have been Rex Tso Sing-yu’s defining moment, but circumstances have changed and Filipinos Donnie Nietes and Aston “Mighty” Palicte will now fight for the vacant WBO super flyweight title in August.
Tso was offered the chance to fight Palicte six months ago – or to at least begin negotiations with him through his promoter, the legendary Roy Jones Jnr – but the 30-year-old unbeaten Hong Kong superstar turned down the chance of a lifetime to focus on recovering from an eye injury sustained in his last victory against former WBA world champion Kohei Kono in October.
Nietes and Palicte have reached an agreement in principle to fight in Cebu City, the Philippines on August 18 and according to reports, the pair are very close to sealing a deal.
Tso had been trying to earn a world title shot for at least five years but is unlikely to return to the ring any time soon after being advised by doctors to rest for another three to six months to give his left eye time to fully heal.
The Hong Kong southpaw (22-0-0, 13 KOs) has not given any indication when he might return to the ring or return to training, amid swirling rumours he might never box again.
“I recently went for a check-up and it’s a bit better, but my left eye is still blurry,” said Tso at a promotional event last month.
Interest for the potential slugfest between three-division champion Nietes, 35, and 27-year-old Palicte – the WBO No 1 and 2 ranked contenders – is growing with the bout being heralded as the second all-Filipino world title fight this year, after Jerwin Ancajas and Jonas Sultan fight for Ancajas’ IBF title later this month.
That fight will be the first time two Filipinos have contested a world title since flyweights Pancho Villa and Clever Sencio fought 93 years ago.
Nietes (41-1-4, 23 KOs) and Palicte (24-2, 20 KOs) had been ordered last month by the WBO to work out an agreement, with the governing body apparently tired of waiting for previous No 1 contender Tso to respond to invitations to fight for the title.
The title was vacated late last year after WBO champion Naoya Inoue of Japan moved up a division to bantamweight.
Watch: Donnie Nietes in action against Argentina’s Juan Carlos Reveco in February
A spokesman for the Palicte camp told The Ring that Nietes would make a worthy opponent for Palicte, who is the lesser known of the pair but who is eight years younger and is the bigger man, standing four inches taller at 1.70 metres tall.
“Donnie is the fight we’ve wanted ever since he was appointed as the number one contender,” said Guy Taylor, matchmaker for Roy Jones Jnr Promotions, which handles Palicte.
“Nietes is definitely a legend in the Philippines and a future Hall of Famer. Nietes, just like Chocolatito [Roman Gonzalez], though, will find out only three pounds north that the landscape will be a little different up there.”