By JM Siasat
Writing for the biggest boxing website while based in Manila has its pros and cons. The downside is not being able to cover most international matches, fights that are held overseas since my focus task is to cover the local boxing scene. With that being said, the most rewarding part of having this job is getting to see the deep talent the Philippines has to offer amd then sharing it to the world. After Juan Manuel Marquez scored the brutal knockout of Manny Pacquiao, writing this piece couldn't have come at a better time as this can serve as a reminder to the fans that Philippine boxing has more than just Pacman. Here I provide you with the country's best of 2012.
Fighter of the year: Nonito Donaire
This shouldn't strike as a surprise to many people since Nonito is in the lead by most boxing scribes. Donaire shines in the area asked most from boxers, and that is activity. Not only did Donaire fought 4 times this year, he also grabbed 2 world titles and the lineal championship among those 4 bouts. Boxing purists may have not gotten their craving to see Donaire and Guillermo Rigondeaux (11-0, 8KO's) share the same ring in 2012, but the fight is on the horizon next year in the event Donaire-Mares doesn't get made.
Knockout of the year: Nonito Donaire KO3 Jorge Arce
We all knew that Donaire would beat Arce. We all knew, that at some point, Arce would most likely get stopped. With all these being said, Donaire knocking Arce out in the 3rd doesn't make it less spectacular. After dropping Arce in the 2nd, Donaire continued putting in work up to the next round - dropping El Travieso once more. The gutsy Mexican got up, asked to be hit to which Donaire obliged with a timed left hook to the chin that sent Arce crashing to the canvas and straight to retirement.
Fight of the year: Dennis Laurente TKO12 Eusebio Baluarte
I don't expect many people to be aware of this fight. As a matter of fact, I don't even expect fans outside the Philippines to know the names mentioned. Baluarte was supposed to be a stay busy fight for the veteran world championship hopeful Dennis Laurente, but a hard right hand that dropped Laurente in the first round changed everything. Little did the few people in attendance knew that they were in for a brutally exciting treat. The veteran southpaw had to dig deep in facing a guy who was hungry to win and prove his own worth. Laurente had body punching, aggressiveness and experience while Baluarte had much more power and a counter right hand counter to neutralize. Both boxers landed telling blows throughout the fight, Laurente was effectively aggressive with his inside body punching but was eating hard shots that penetrated his defense all night long.
As the fight went on, some ringside observers felt Laurente needed a knockout to win. The veteran pressed hard in the last round, smelling blood against the fading Baluarte. Laurente dropped Baluarte with a right hook to the temple in the final seconds, Baluarte stood up but referee Virgilio Garcia waived the fight off upon seeing how hurt Baluarte was. The stoppage time? Exactly at 3:00 of round 12.
Round of the year: Brian Viloria - Hernan Marquez Round 5
Just the names alone suggested an action packed fight where both boxers had the heart and the tools to beat the other. Viloria was winning the fight up to this point but a hard right hook stunned him. And just when Viloria looked like he was ready to go, the WBO world flyweight champion launched a hard right hand that sent the younger beltholder to the canvas for the second time in the fight. Being the warrior that Marquez is, he got up and resumed his attack soon afterwards.
Upset of the year: Sonny Boy Jaro KO6 Pongsaklek Wonjongkam
It was a fight not too many people paid attention to. It was a bout looked upon as just "another" fight, just "another" win for the lineal flyweight champion Pongsaklek Wonjongkam. Nobody believed that Jaro couldn pull it off other than his team, and boy did they prove us wrong. It was clear from the start that Jaro was coming to fight and was looking for a knockout, dropping the WBC fighter of the decade once in the first and then again in the third and then ending him in the sixth after dropping him twice more.
Trainer of the year: Joven Jimenez / Romeo Brillantes
Jimenez worked wonders with his assistant coach, Romeo Brillantes, as their fighters stepped up in competition and came out on top. Jimenez trains and manages the Top Contender gym, the place where serious young boxing prospects named Froilan Saludar, Jerwin Ancajas and Adones Cabalquinto can be found. His best highlight of the year was when he and Brillantes made Pungluang Sor Singyu of Thailand become the WBO world bantamweight champion after stopping AJ Banal in the 9th round as an adoring Filipino crowd in Pasay City, Philippines watched on.
Robbery of the year: Kompayak Porpramook TD5 Jonathan Taconing
The old saying suggests when a boxer fights on hostile home territory, the visiting guy must knock the other guy out. Jonathan Taconing travelled all the way to Thailand and was about to do just that against the then defending WBC world light flyweight champion Kompayak Porpramook. Unsurprisingly, the shady team of referee, judges and ringside physician found a way to bail their guy out. Both fighters exchanged and fought their hearts out in the opening rounds but it was clear that Taconing was taking the punishment a lot better. In round 4, an accidental headbutt opened a small cut above Porpramook's left eye. The fight went on as the cut was too small to stop the fight.
Taconing, pressured hard in round 5, managed to wobble the defending champion but the seemingly biased referee from Korea, Jae Bong Kim, separated the fighters and deducted a point from Taconing for no apparent reason. As round 5 ended, so did the fight since Porpramook wasn't allowed to continue by the ringside phyisican due to the small cut that was hardly bleeding. Scorecards were announced and Kompayak Porpramook was declared the winner. Ringside observers and experts including this writer thought Taconing clearly won the bout. As for the referee, it was reported that the WBC is making the guy sit out for a year.