Donaire is 2012 ESPN.com Boxer of the Year

NONITO “THE FILIPINO FLASH” DONAIRE was the runaway choice as 2012 ESPN.com Boxer of the Year after winning four fights this year.

Donaire (31-1, 20 KOs) began the year having vacated his bantamweight belts. Four fights later, he scored seven knockdowns, four wins, two knockouts, and two world titles.

In February, Donaire moved up in weight to face former titleholder Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. of Puerto Rico. He dropped Vazquez in the ninth round en route to a decision to win a vacant title.

In July, Donaire faced South Africa’s Jeffrey Mathebula and dropped him in the fourth round, broke his jaw and won a lopsided decision to unify two belts.

Donaire vacated one of the titles but returned in October to face well-respected former titleholder Toshiaki Nishioka of Japan, who didn’t have a title only because he had relinquished it. Donaire scored knockdowns in the sixth and ninth rounds and won via ninth round knockout.

And then, given the opportunity for a rare fourth fight in a year, Donaire squared off with former titlist Jorge Arce of Mexico and dropped him in the second round, then twice more in the third, including landing a pulverizing left hook to the chin that knocked the challenger out cold. Noli Cruz

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