2012 The Year of Donaire
By Eddie Alinea
Fri, 04 Jan 2013
MANILA(PNA) - Boxing is now a seven letter word. It’s spelled “D-O-N-A-I-R-E.”
Fil-American Nonito Donaire Jr. is not only a boxer but a full-blown superstar athlete. By the end of last year, the 30-year-old Talibon, Bohol-born Donaire seemed to have overtaken compatriot Manny Pacquiao as the local and international ring icon.
He was ESPN, Yahoo and Sports Illustrated’s “Fighter of the Year.” An honor also bestowed upon him lately by Ring Magazine, acknowledged as bible of the sport of sweet science. And most-likely, by the Boxing Writers Association of America. It could only be the beginning.
Pacquiao had won the BWAA Fighter of the Year award three times, the first time in 2006, then back-to-back in 2008 and 2009, one of a handful who had won the accolade more than twice.
The Philippine Sportswriters Association, which, for the past decade or so, had named the eight-division champion Pacquiao as its “Athlete of the Year” awardee, would probably choose Donaire as the recipient for the top honor. Again, it could be a start of what is expected many more awards.
But the 34-year-old Pacquiao though, despite taking a nosedive in his 17-year boxing career, which many believe is only temporary, still remains the Philippines’ ring hero. To the world boxing community, he is still the first and only man to win 10 world crowns in eight weight divisions. The only fighter to own four lineal belts. Not only that, Pacquiao’s exploits off the ring as a public servant, a philanthropist, a television host and an entertainer.
Back to the “Filipino Flash”, who fought four times in 2012 and sending each opponent on the seat of their pants is already a feat in this era when boxers normally climb the ring two times in a year. Donaire keyed off a successful 365-day campaign with a split decision triumph over Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. last February 4 to annex the vacant World Boxing Organization super-bantamweight crown in Texas where he knocked down his opponent in the ninth round. Five month later on June 7, he sent Jeffrey Mathebula kissing the canvass in the fourth on the way to a unanimous decision and unifying the WBO/ International Boxing Federation 122-pound belts. Donaire resumed his winning ways on October 13 by knocking out Toshiaki Nishioka in the ninth round top keep his WBO super bantam title besides adding the vacant Ring Magazine linear title and WBC Diamond belt in to his collection. He gave up though his IBF crown.
And as if wearing three world crowns in as many weight divisions wasn’t enough, Donaire, second child in the brood of four out of the union of Nonito Sr., a former soldier and Imelda, a teacher-turned care-giver, ended his busy year with a sensational third round KO of Mexican Jorge Arce, who he knocked down thrice to remain the WBO super-bantam king and keep Philippine boxing’s head above water.
Besides losing his pair of assignments in, the first a split decision to undefeated American welterweight Timothy Bradley and the embarrassing sixth round KO to long-time Mexican nemesis Juan Manuel Marquez, year 2012 proved to be a really bad year for Pacquiao.
The Pambansang Kamao’s year-long woes begun right in the first month of the second quarter when the Bureau of Internal Revenue Region 12 files complaint against the Sarangani Congressman for allegedly failing to submit documents to support his income tax returns involving his business interests and income sources.
Pacquiao calls it “plain and simple harassment” designed to distract him in his coming fight with Marquez. Getting support from his fellow lawmakers in the Lower House and several cabinet members, the Department of Justice later dismissed the case on the eve of his fourth meeting with Marquez in November.
His stand against same-sex marriage and the Reproductive Health Bill, likewise, wrought havoc on his popularity although, if some writers were to be believed, those issues affected his not-so-impressive performance against Bradley.
On a brighter side, as a congressman representing the lone district of his wife Jinkee’s Sarangani Province, Pacquiao, father of four, filed a bill creating Philippine Boxing Commission aimed at, among others, giving benefits to past and present professional fighters.
Pacquiao, likewise, continued giving away financial assistance to countrymen in distress, especially those suffering serious illnesses, and giving away prizes in terms of products to his listeners in his television program.
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