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2012 Fighter of the Year

Credit: Chris Farina - Top Rank

Boxer of the Year 2012 – Top Fighter of the Year Award

A few different factors come into play when awarding the Fighter of the Year. A fighter must have had scored meaningful, dominant victories over top-flight competition. He should have been active, and if possible, had a few moments that made you step back and say “wow” in appreciation of his skills.

The 2012 Boxer of the Year award is therefore a rather obvious choice given these factors.

Nonito Donaire Is the 2012 Fighter of the Year

—-> View all of our 2012 Boxing Awards!

Credit: Chris Farina - Top Rank

The Filipino Flash has long been considered one of the best fighters on the planet. Currently ranked as number 4 pound for pound, Donaire (30-1, 19 KOs) though suffered at times in his career from a lack of momentum. Where did he go after that big KO win over Vic Darchinyan years ago? Then, similarly, after the huge KO over Fernando Montiel, promotional issues then derailed him for much of the rest of 2011.

In 2012, Donaire really got things moving though. He fought four times over the year, a rare feat these days for a fighter at the highest level of the sport. And none of his opponents were pushovers either, having a combined record of 147-14-8. No other top fighter in the sport was as active, nor as dominant, against as strong a lot of opponents.

First, Donaire took home a vacant Super Bantamweight title in his first fight in the division, winning a decision over former titleholder Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. in a tough fight. Then he unified his belt against Jeffrey Mathebula, in a wide decision victory.

Next came the highly respected Toshiaki Nishioka, a long-time champion, and top-15 pound for pound caliber fighter. Donaire easily controlled Nishioka, scoring the stoppage win.

Credit: Chris Farina - Top Rank

Finally, when he fought Jorge Arce, everyone knew he’d have a chance to look spectacular in taking on a come-forward fighter who’d be right in front of him all night. Both men obliged, and Donaire scored a vicious 3rd round knockout victory. Four fights against four current or former champions, four wins and two knockouts. Not bad for his debut at 122 lbs!

There’s bigger fish to try though for Donaire now. A fight against Abner Mares looms as the best fight to make in the sport in 2013, and a fight against Guillermo Rigondeaux is also mouth-watering. And that’s before he moves up to Featherweight! The future is bright for the Filipino Flash, and this could end up being just the first of several Fighter of the Year awards that he ends up bringing home for himself.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Juan Manuel Marquez: Marquez finally broke through and got his victory over Manny Pacquiao. And what a way to get it done! He scored a crushing 6th round knockout win, a one-punch knockout heard the round the world which was good enough to win the 2012 Knockout of the Year award. He also won a title of sorts in the Junior Welterweight division, putting him in rarified air as one of the most decorated champions in Mexican boxing history.
  • Andre Ward: The undefeated S.O.G. fought only once in 2012, otherwise he would have received more serious consideration for a repeat performance following his 2011 Fighter of the Year honors. Coming off his spectacular Super Six run, Ward took on the reigning champion at 175 lbs, Chad Dawson, and absolutely trounced him en route to a stoppage victory, making him the de facto top guy at two divisions at once.