Battle-tested boxing champion Nonito Donaire will be named, for the fourth time, as Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) “Athlete of the Year” along with longest reigning Filipino boxing champion Donnie Nietes and golfer Miguel Tabuena.
The trio will be honored during its Annual Awards Night on Feb. 13 to be held at One Esplanade in Pasay City.
“That’s awesome” was Donaire’s reaction when he learned about the award according to Ronnie Natanielz. After his knockout defeat against Nicholas Walters at featherweight in 2014, Donaire registered three successive victories going back down to 122 pound division in 2015. He demolished William Prado in two rounds in March 2015 at the Araneta Coliseum in Manila, which I was able to watch live at ringside. In July 2015, Donaire duplicated his performance wiping out Anthony Settoul in Cotai Arena. Donaire topped his performance in 2015 with a bruising 12-round unanimous decision victory over tough-as-nail Mexican banger Cesar Juarez.
Donaire got the prestigious award first in 2007, and then again in 2011 and 2012.
Donaire was unable to attend the awards night in 2011 and 2012 causing 2012 PSA president Rey Bancod disgust about Donaire no-show. In 2012, Donaire was in deep training in the US for his fight against slick boxer Guillermo Rigondeux, which he lost via decision. This time, I’m hoping Donaire would be available as he will be in the Manila for his training for a fight in April.
Picking Nietes to share the “Athlete of the Year” award is no-brainer. He’s was defeated only once in his career. He broke the record of Gabriel “Flash” Elorde, one of the greatest Filipino boxers, as the longest reigning Filipino champion. He will be facing Moises Fuentes in a rubber match for his next title defense.
Tabuena defeated Scott Barr of Australia to win his first ever Philippine Open championship. The 22-year-old golfer highlighted his performance by winning the Asian Tour.
PSA president Rey Mallari said Donaire, Nietes, and Tabuena “again showed and proved to the world what Filipino athletes are made of as proof of their triumph and success in their respective fields last year. As the country’s sources of pride, all three are truly deserving of the Athlete of the Year honor.”