HOUSTON – Nonito Donaire just ended 2012 the way he started it – with a bang.
After escaping with a split decision over Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. of Puerto Rico to win the World Boxing Organization version of the 122-lbs belt early in March, the highly-skillful boxer from the Philippines closed out his campaign by destroying and bloodying a game Jorge Arce of Mexico in three quick rounds to retain his super-bantamweight title almost a week before Christmas.
Vazquez and Arce are just two of four marquee fighters Donaire exposed in a 10-month span, making him almost a cinch for the Fighter of the Year award.
Although being named as such would be an honor for him, the 30-year-old Filipino who now lives in San Leandro, California said it’s all up to the proper body to make the choice.
“I will leave it to the sportswriters and I will leave it to the people,” said Donaire, who is expected to make a case for the honor against junior welterweight champion Danny Garcia, middleweight title holder Sergio Martinez, and Mexican Juan Manuel Marquez.
“It would be a great honor, and it would be an amazing Christmas gift to me,” he said of the coveted award thrice bestowed on Filipino boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao.
Donaire, who once tried out for the US Olympic boxing team but never made it, also took on Jeffrey Mathebula of South Africa and Toshiaki Nishioka of Japan this year and blew both former champions away.
The 30-year-old Filipino (31-1, 20 KOs), knocked down and broke the jaw of Mathebula before scoring a lopsided decision in unifying the WBO and International Boxing Federation super-bantamweight titles last July.
Then prior to the Arce fight, Donaire dismantled Nishioka, the former World Boxing Council champion, by scoring two knockdowns on the way to a remarkable ninth-round stoppage in October.