By Jake Donovan
The ordered super flyweight title fight between Donnie Nietes and Aston Palicte is now officially in the hands of the highest bidder.
With the two sides unable to come to terms for their mandated rematch, the World Boxing Organization (WBO) has called for a purse bid hearing to determine promotional rights for the contest. The session is scheduled to take place February 28 at WBO headquarters in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
“With enough time to negotiate and (both sides) unable to come to terms, we now have to bring the matter to purse bid,” Francisco ‘Paco’ Valcarcel, president of the WBO—whose 115-pound title Nietes owns—told BoxingScene.com.
All promoters registered with the WBO will be eligible to participate, with a minimum bid $100,000 in order to be eligible to promote the fight. The final purse amount will be split 75/25 in favor of Nietes as the defending titlist in the event the fight takes place in the Philippines, with an 80/20 split in favor of the champ for the bout to take place anywhere else in the world.
The pair of super flyweights from the Philippines previously met in a vacant title fight last September, only for their HBO-televised clash to end in a widely-disputed 12-round draw. The bout wasn’t particularly action-packed, but still unforgivable of judges Robert Hoyle (116-112, Palicte) and Daniel Sandoval (118-110, Nietes) to land six rounds apart.
Judge Max DeLuca saw the contest even at 114-114, leaving the title vacant and the two boxers to ultimately travel separate paths towards the same destination.
Nietes (42-1-5, 23KOs) received a reported purse of $50,000 for his first fight with Palicte (25-2-1, 21KOs), whose take for the night was a reported $25,000.
Permission was granted to Nietes for an immediate second crack at the title, facing Kazuto Ioka in a battle of former three-division titlists last New Year’s Eve in Macao, China. Yet another scoring controversy ensued, this one declaring a winner as Nietes claimed a split decision and the title to close out 2018.
The bout was granted on the condition that the winner would next defend versus its ordered mandatory, which was filled just one week ago. Palicte stormed into the top slot on the strength of a brutal two-round destruction of Puerto Rico’s Jose Martinez in their late-January final eliminator in Alpine, California.
A mere four days later, the WBO sent letters to the promotional staff at ALA Promotions (Nietes’ handlers) and Roy Jones Jr. Boxing Promotions (Palicte). Such ordered mandatories are normally accompanied by a 30-day free negotiations period, meaning the two sides can talk in hopes of reaching a deal before the sanctioning body assigns a purse bid hearing.
The early indication of Nietes and ALA Promotions eyeing bigger money fights, however, left Palicte’s side of the belief that the rematch might not happen. Apparently, the same concern resided with the WBO who ordered a shorter 14-day negotiation period.
“This is now twice that Aston has taken the long road to get to this point,” Keith Veltre, CEO of Roy Jones Jr. Boxing Promotions—whom promotes Palicte—told BoxingScene.com. “We didn’t complain when the WBO let Nietes leapfrog him to fight Ioka. We also understand that Donnie is looking for a bigger opportunity. But we are looking for a title shot—a rematch with Nietes or for the vacant title against the next highest-rated contender.”
Thursday’s purse bid hearing should prove interesting—and perhaps provide additional insight as to whether the rematch will in fact happen.
Whatever scenario, Palicte’s team is fully prepared to seize control of his next title fight.
“We are ready to go and have the utmost confidence in winning a purse bid,” Veltre insists.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox