FOUR Filipino prizefighters quietly delivered a big punch last year, helping ease the pain of a nation grieving over the misfortune that befell ring legend Manny Pacquiao.
Brian Viloria, Johnriel Casimero, Donnie Nietes, and Sonny Boy Jaro made it to the big stage after succeeding in their respective world title quests on a year best remembered for the rise to fame of Nonito Donaire, Jr and the fall from grace of the Pacman.
For achieving the feats, Viloria, Casimero, Nietes, and Jaro will be honored as co-winners of the professional boxer of the year award during the PSA-Milo Annual Awards Night on March 16 at the Manila Hotel ballroom.
“They all deserve to be feted and share the spotlight when we honor the big achievers of 2012 in two weeks time,” said PSA president Rey Bancod of Tempo after a board meeting.
For his amazing achievement on a year that saw him defend his crown three times in a busy reign as world champion, Donaire was named one of four winners of the highly-coveted Athlete of the Year award given annually by the country’s oldest association of media practitioners.
Josie Gabuco, the first Filipina to win a world title in amateur boxing, the multi-titled Ateneo Blue Eagles, and the world champion Manila women’s softball squad, will share the top award with Donaire.
Pro cager Mark Caguioa, jockey Jonathan Hernandez, pro golfer Tony Lascuna, horse Hagdang Bato, amateur cager Bobby Ray Parks, and amateur golfer Dottie Ardina will also be feted during the rites backed by the Philippine Sports Commission, Globalport 900, Rain or Shine, Philippine Basketball Association, Smart, LBC, Senator Chiz Escudero, and ICTSI at Philippine Golf Tour.
Bancod said the board is now in the process of finalizing the list of awardees, including the recipients of the Antonio Siddayao award, citations, and other special awards like the National Sports Association of the Year.
The 31-year-old Viloria unified the world flyweight titles with a sensational 10th-round knockout win over Mexican Hernan `Tyson’ Marquez in October in Los Angeles, heroically withstanding a heavy bombardment from the Mexican and sending his rival to dreamland with 1:01 left in that fateful round.
Casimero retained his IBF junior fly championship with a split decision win over Pedro Guevarra in Sinaloa, Mexico in August, going great in the late rounds to salvage the thriller.
In a victory that merited big spaces in top newspapers here and abroad, Casimero endured a mob that attacked his corner after scoring a surprising 10th-round TKO victory over former Argentine world titlist Luis Lazarte to win the interim IBF junior fly crown in Mar de Plata, Argentina in February.
Nietes made it to the honor roll after retaining the WBO light-flyweight crown with a decisive win over Felipe Salguero at the Resorts World Hotel in Pasay City in July.
Jaro for his part pulled off one of the most stunning upsets in boxing history after scoring a sixth-round knockout of legendary Thai fighter Pongsaklek Wonjongkam to wrest the WBC flyweight title in the city of Chonburi, Thailand.