Filipino fighter, Nonito Donaire (31-1, 20 KOs) has managed to have a banner year and has proved without a shadow of a doubt, that he deserves to be the 2012 Fighter of the Year for a number reasons.
Donaire has had a busy year, stepping into the ring four times this year. He dominated Wilfredo Vasquez Jr. (22-2-1, 19 KOs) in Feb. at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas earlier this year. Donaire did this in commanding fashion, knocking Vasquez Jr. down in round 9. Donaire would win by split decision, and pick up the WBO super bantamweight belt.
Donaire’s next fight would be in July, facing a tough Jeffrey Mathebula (26-4-2, 14 KOs) at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California. Donaire took some hard shots in this fight, proving he has a chin, but figured out his range and plan of attack with absolute beauty. He worked Mathebula inside and out, dropping Mathebula in round 4 with a counter left. It was the first time Mathebula was knocked down in his career. Donaire wins by unanimous decision, and adds the IBF super bantamweight belt to his collection.
Japanese favorite, Toshiaki Nishioka (39-5-3, 24 KOs) would face Donaire on a cool night in Oct. at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California. It was a fight that I had a chance to cover in person for rootshed.com. It was this fight that Donaire made a legit statement in the ring as a candidate for Fighter of the Year. Overshadowed by Rios-Alvarado, which had been the bout before Donaire-Nishioka could be a solid consideration for “Fight of the Year,” but that’s another story. Donaire out boxed Nishioka, landing shots at will and precision. His patience is one his strong points, Donaire knocked Nishioka down in round 6 and a TKO in round 9, and added the WBC Diamond super bantamweight belt to his growing collection.
The Toyota Center in Houston, Texas on Dec. 15 would seal the deal for Donaire as far as Fighter of the Year. He would face Mexican legend, Jorge Arce in a bout scheduled for 12 rounds. Arce was past his prime going into this fight, but is still exciting to watch. Donaire would once again be patient and find his range, it was not long before the stronger Donaire would land a right sending Arce to the canvas in round 2. In round 3 Donaire would again drop Arce down for a count, clearly stunned Arce would get up and survive the count. Seconds later, a determined Donaire would fire off a stunning left that sent Arce down for a final time. Arce could not make the count and announced his retirement after the fight.
Donaire fought with a left hand which has not completely healed, yet he did not shy away from Arce, or any of his fights for that matter. His hand has been injured for quite a long time, yet he continues to fight. He is not a trash talker, he respects his opponents and has heart.
Most important and foremost, Nonito Donaire is the cleanest athlete in any sport and on any planet when it comes to drug testing. His open door policy about testing is what sets him a breed apart from all the rest, his results are made public and he does not require his opponents to test. He takes any doubt out of the equation when it comes to the sweet science. Donaire knows what goes in his body, he is proof that hard work and good habits can earn you a title or two.