MANILA, Philippines – Nonito Donaire Jr’s impressive run in 2012 makes him a prime candidate for the Fighter of the Year award, according to ESPN boxing analyst Dan Rafael.
Rafael agreed with local ring analysts Recah Trinidad and Al Mendoza that Donaire’s string of victories this year is nothing short of sensational.
“Donaire has had a great year, which he finished off in style to likely lock up Fighter of the Year honors,” said Rafael in ESPN.
What makes Donaire more commendable than other candidates, according to Rafael, is his willingness to undergo random drug testing.
“Not only has Donaire dominated four quality opponents in four world title bouts, but he did it by removing any notion of doping, which -- as in most sports -- has become a major problem in boxing,” he said.
Donaire already held titles in the flyweight and bantamweight divisions before climbing the super bantamweight class and outpointing Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. for the vacant WBO 122-pound title last February.
He followed this up with a unanimous decision win against Jeffrey Mathebula in July to unify the WBO and the International Boxing Federation (IBF) titles.
After vacating the IBF crown, he defended the WBO title against Toshiaki Nishioka three months later, retiring the Japanese champion in nine rounds.
Then came Donaire’s biggest win in 2012 when he dropped future hall-of-famer Jorge Arce thrice en route to a third-round knockout victory.
Rafael said it would be ideal for Donaire to stay at the super bantamweight division for a while and face either Guillermo Rigondeaux or Abner Mares, both 122-pound champions.
“Making the Rigondeaux fight would be a snap because both [him and Donaire] are represented by Top Rank. Making the Mares fight would be a nightmare because Mares is with rival promoter Golden Boy,” said Rafael.