For impressively ruling the super bantamweight division, Nonito Donaire Jr. was recently named ESPN’s Fighter of the Year.
The popular sports network honored the 30-year-old Donaire, known as the Filipino Flash, for winning all his four title bouts this year while submitting himself to voluntary anti-doping tests 24-7, 365 days a year.
According to writer Dan Rafael, Donaire was an “easy pick as ESPN.com Boxer of the Year” for dominating the 122-pound division with his usual flair. He capped his explosive performance with knockout wins over former champs Toshiaki Nishioka of Japan and Jorge Arce of Mexico.
Donaire started the year with a classy decision win over former champion Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. of Puerto Rico for the vacant WBO junior bantamweight crown in February.
In July, he also annexed the IBF version of the belt by outclassing lanky six-foot champion Jeffrey Mathebula of South Africa who managed to escape getting KOed but not before suffering a broken jaw that would later on require surgery.
He returned in October to force Nishioka into retirement after the bout was stopped in the ninth round then needed just three rounds in the second week of December to put away Arce.