MANILA, Philippines – Nonito “The Filipino Flash” Donaire had an eventful 2012: He fought four times against highly rated opponents and won them all -- each victory more impressive than the one before.
In February, Donaire relinquished his bantamweight belts to move up to super bantamweight, and knocked down Puerto Rico’s Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. once en route to a split-decision win. In July, he floored South Africa’s Jeffrey Mathebula and won via unanimous decision.
Just last October, Donaire registered his first knockout victory at the super bantamweight division when he stopped Japan’s Toshiaki Nishioka in nine rounds. He followed that up with another stoppage win, this time knocking out Jorge Arce of Mexico in three.
While all of the victories were special, Donaire admitted that he was especially proud of his wins over Nishioka and Arce.
“I’m proud of the Nishioka fight, because I was able to do everything in my game plan. And I think with Arce, that’s the most stunning (victory),” Donaire told ABS-CBNnews.com. “Those two are my favorites for this year.”
“The Filipino Flash” told ANC that Nishioka was his hardest opponent this year, even though the Japanese fighter was tentative in their clash.
“As much as Nishioka was timid, it was a chess match. We were constantly in a mental battle,” Donaire said. “If I make a mistake, I knew he would capitalize.”
“It was back-and-forth until he made a mistake and I was able to capitalize,” he added.
Against Arce, Donaire was fighting a good friend who he had much respect for. The Mexican warrior wound up retiring after his loss.
“He’s an amazing fighter. He’s a Mexican legend, and I have the biggest respect for Arce. He has done so much for the boxing world and he deserves to be a Hall-of-Famer,” Donaire said.
After four victories, including two knockouts over Arce and Nishioka, Donaire is now among the top contenders for the Fighter of the Year award.
“I’m honored, and it’s a pleasure to be a part of it,” Donaire said. “But again, I just always leave it to the people’s opinion and I just take it at that.”