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Saturday, January 5, 2013

Nonito Donaire's success signals rise of new era in Pinoy boxing

Although the devastating loss of Philippine boxing icon Manny Pacquiao to his Mexican rival Juan Manuel Marquez closed the curtain for the boxing world of 2012, it gave rise to the stellar performance of other Filipino boxers.

Nonito “The Filipino Flash” Donaire Jr. (31-1, 20 KOs) has always been overshadowed by the achievements of Pacquiao who also happened to be his idol, a report by ESPN's Dan Rafael said.

However the recent contrast in the performances of Pacquiao and Donaire has been a turning point in both boxers' careers and their possible roles as the Philippine's boxing icon.

Pacquiao, 34 lost twice in 2012, first to Timothy Bradley Jr. in a controversial split decision in June then to Marquez in December when a solid right counter made him drop to the floor face first.

Marquez's merciless knockout of Pacquiao, which was a significant part of boxing history, was declared as ESPN's knockout of the year.

On the other hand, the 30-year-old Donaire had four bouts in 2012 where he won all of them easily even when moving up to a heavier weight division which was uncharted territory for the Filipino Flash.

He started his super bantamweight campaign defeating Wilfredo Vasquez Jr. and claiming the vacant 122-pound WBO super bantamweight title.

The 5'5 Donaire seemed to portray a “David and Goliath” when he pounded his tallest opponent ever, Jeffrey Mathebula.

Mathebula was a 5'11 towering champion and defeating him earned Donaire his second super bantamweight championship, the IBF title.

He then knocked out former No. 1 world division champion Toshiaki Nishioka in October who didn't have a belt only because he relinquished it.

With three successful bouts for 2012 safely tucked under his belt, Donaire pushed for a fourth bout which is rare for professional boxers because of the amount of time needed to prepare for a fight.

He was pitted against Mexican boxing veteran Jorge Arce whom he floored in the second round and finally knocking him out cold in the third to end the year with a stellar super bantamweight campaign.

This marked a sudden switch in the roles of Pacquiao and Donaire as the country's top and second seeded boxer with the latter even being announced as ESPN's fighter of the year.

Donaire is only the second Filipino to receive the honor, after Pacquiao, who won the award in 2006, 2008 and 2009.

Emulating the 2009 Pacquiao

Donaire's success in 2012 seemed to be similar to Pacquiao's boxing career in 2009 when he was declared as ESPN's fighter of the year for the third time.

In 2009, Pacquiao bested and knocked out his two opponents that year — Ricky “The Hitman” Hatton and Miguel Cotto — in an electrifying fashion, making him a crowd favorite.

Though these victories, Pacquiao won championships in two weight classes giving him a record of being the first title holder of seven different weight divisions.

However, even though Donaire is given much praise for his victories in the past year, he remains humble and maintains all respect for his idol whom many are clamoring to retire from the sport.

Another thing about Donaire is that he is the only boxer to sign to the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association which allows them to take his urine sample anytime they would like to, the ESPN report said.

This is big since a lot of unanswered questions have been thrown at sports – not just in the world of boxing – regarding the usage of athletes of performance enhancing drugs.

"I don't mind it. I think it's a good for the sport and I am going to do it," Donaire told ESPN adding, "It's a good idea. I have nothing to hide. I would love for all fighters to follow me, but not everybody is like me."

Now, people just have to wait whether Pacquiao will rise again and bask in boxing's prime spotlight together with Donaire or will the Filipino Flash step up and replace Pacman as the new face of Philippine boxing. - VVP, GMA News

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