THREE years after, another Filipino has been extolled as the best fighter of the world.
Nonito Donaire Jr. was awarded the Sugar Ray Robinson trophy as the 2012 Fighter of the Year for a remarkable campaign that saw him win all four of his bouts including the last two by knockout, and bag a third world title by unifying the World Boxing Organization and International Boxing Federation super-bantamweight crowns.
The 'Filipino Flash' was handed the huge black and bronze hardware in formal rites during the annual banquet of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) on Thursday night (Friday, Manila time) at the Capitale in New York City.
It was the first BWAA Fighter of the Year honor for the 30-year-old former flyweight and bantamweight champion of the world, and the first boxer from the Philippines to be accorded the honor since the great Manny Pacquiao won the last of his three awards in 2009.
“Thanks for giving me the fire to win,” said an emotional Donaire when he accepted the award.
The recognition comes two days before the 30-year-old Filipino, now based in San Leandro, California faces undefeated Cuban Guillermo Rigondeaux in their super-bantamweight unification title fight at the Radio City Music Hall.
Donaire was also named Athlete of the Year by the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) for 2012, an honor he shared with the Manila women’s softball team, lady boxer Josie Gabuco, and the Ateneo Blue Eagles team.
Unfortunately, he failed to personally receive his award as the boxing champion was already busy training for his fight against Rigondeaux when the PSA held its yearly banquet.
Team Donaire actually made it a double as Robert Garcia was handed out the Eddie Futch Trainer of the Year award.
Other than Nonito, Garcia is also credited for producing world champions in Brandon Rios and his brother Mickey.
Meanwhile, cited as the Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier Fight of the Year was the action-packed fourth encounter between long-time nemesis Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez.
Trailing behind on points in their December welterweight showdown, the 39-year-old Mexican stunned a crowd of 16,000 inside the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas – and the millions around the world – he came through with a one-punch knockout of the sensational Filipino fighter with just a second remaining in the sixth round.