By Rene Bonsubre Jr – MANNY PACQUIAO – He entered 2010 a global superstar after his stoppage wins against Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton and Miguel Cotto.
He was now being matched up against another huge star, the undefeated American Floyd Mayweather. But disagreements from both camps made fans wait for an agonizing five years for the bout to take place. Ring Magazine even made the failure of the Pacquiao-Mayweather fight as the Event of the Year for 2010.
Pacquiao did win his historic eighth division world title that year with a one-sided hammering of Antonio Margarito for the WBC Super Welterweight title.
Pacquiao would get a close majority decision win against Mexican nemesis Juan Manuel Marquez, lose a controversial split verdict to Timothy Bradley before being knocked out by Marquez in their fourth meeting in 2012.
Marquez’s miracle right hand in the sixth round had Pacquiao unconscious for a couple of minutes. This triggered worries about his health and even calls for him to retire. He did have a blossoming political career in the Philippines.
But Pacquiao fought on and rebuilt his career. Then came unanimous decision wins in Macau against Brandon Rios and Chris Algieri as well as a revenge unanimous win against Bradley in Las Vegas for the WBO welterweight crown.
The fight against Mayweather finally happened in Las Vegas in 2015 but it turned out to be a disappointment for the majority of fans. It wasn’t just Mayweather’s defensive style that led to a clear unanimous win; according to Compubox, only three times did Pacquiao land double-figure punches in a round. Hours after the fight, Pacquiao’s team revealed that he had injured his right shoulder during training and he would later undergo surgery for the torn rotator cuff. No rematch happened despite on and off rumours.
Pacquiao would win the WBO title by again beating Jessie Vargas but would lose to Jeff Horn in Australia in 2017. Once again, there were talks as to whether he would continue fighting. But he scored his first stoppage win since 2009 against Lucas Matthysse in 2018 followed by a stellar 2019 with points victories against Adrien Broner and Keith Thurman. Pacquiao currently holds the WBA ‘super’ world welterweight title.
Pacquiao (67-7-2,39KO’s) turned 41 last December 17. He may no longer be the unstoppable force of nature he once was a decade ago but he still has a lot left in the tank. The incumbent Senator continues to be a source of inspiration for Filipino boxers.
Pacquiao was ranked number 8 by Forbes among the highest-paid athletes for the past decade with earnings reaching a total of 435 million dollars. The “retired” Mayweather topped that list with 915 million.
Pacquiao will be looking for another big fight in 2020.
DONNIE NIETES – The former janitor is a soft-spoken fighter who has languished in the shadows of his more popular countrymen. But Nietes has remained undefeated in this decade and broke a hallowed Philippine record in longevity.
Nietes was already the WBO minimumweight champion in 2010 and defended his title for the third straight time in Mexico by unanimous decision against Mario Rodriguez. Nietes remains the only Filipino to successfully retain his world title thrice on Mexican soil.
He would win his second WBO world title at 108 lbs by dethroning Mexican Ramon Garcia Hirales in Bacolod City, Philippines. Nietes’ first real test came in 2013 when he faced another Mexican, Moises Fuentes, a former champion at 105 lbs. The fight ended in a much talked about majority draw in Cebu.
In their rematch in 2014, Nietes was emphatic, stopping Fuentes in nine rounds. He would defend later in the year, stopping Carlos Velarde in seven rounds. This win allowed Nietes to break the seven-year three-month barrier established by the great Flash Elorde when the clock signalled the beginning of 2015.
For comparison, Gabriel “Flash” Elorde reigned in one division -as undisputed world junior lightweight champion from 1960-67 while Nietes was champion at 105 lbs starting 2007 then moved to 108 lbs in 2013. Nietes is still widely considered to be the longest-reigning Filipino world champion as his reign at junior flyweight extended until 2016.
In 2017, Nietes would win his third world title by beating Thailand’s Komgrich Nantapech by unanimous decision for the IBF flyweight crown. In 2018, he sought a fourth division title but was stalled when countryman Aston Palicte held him to a controversial split draw in California.
On New Year’s Eve 2018 in Macao, Nietes would face his most accomplished opponent, Kazuto Ioka of Japan, also a three-division champion, for the vacant WBO junior bantamweight title. In a nail-biting tactical battle, Nietes got a split verdict. He joined the ranks of Pacquiao and Nonito Donaire as the only three Filipinos to win four or more division world titles.
Nietes would give up his belt to give way to Palicte fighting for the title against Ioka. But Palicte wound up losing by TKO. The now 37-year-old Nietes (42-1-5,23KO’s) has been inactive for a year. He has a 17-0-2 record in this decade. He was not the most popular among the Filipino world champions but he was the most consistent performer. There are rumours of him returning in 2020.
NONITO DONAIRE – The Filipino Flash entered the decade already a star due to his fifth-round knockout win over then unbeaten Australian Vic Darchinyan for the IBF flyweight title in 2007. Donaire had an interim WBA crown at 115 lbs at the start of 2010.
In 2011, he moved up to bantamweight and deliver a highlight-reel second-round knockout of Mexico’s Fernando Montiel for the WBC and WBO belts. In 2012, he moved up to 122 lbs and won the WBO world title by split decision against Puerto Rican Wilfredo Vasquez, Jr. He would then unify with IBF champ, South African Jeffrey Mathebula, and prevail by unanimous decision. Donaire would get stoppage wins over former champs Toshiaki Nishioka of Japan and Jorge Arce of Mexico.
His career would take a downturn following losses to Cuban Guillermo Rigondeaux and Jamaican Nicholas Walters. In between those two defeats, Donaire won a WBA world title at featherweight against South Africa’s Simpiwe Vetyeka by an unimpressive technical decision in Macao.
So in the middle of this decade, many thought Donaire’s best years were behind him. But he dropped down from 126 to 122 lbs and captured the WBO junior featherweight title against Mexican Cesar Juarez in 2015. In one of his defences against Hungarian Zsolt Bedak, Donaire set a gate record in Cebu, Philippines where the attendance was estimated to go beyond 30,000.
But after losing to Jessie Magdaleno and Carl Frampton, Donaire was hounded by questions once again. In a bold move, he returned to bantamweight and joined the WBSS tournament. Along the way, he beat the U.K’s Ryan Burnett and Stephon Young of the U.S., setting up the much-anticipated finals against rising star and IBF champ Naoya Inoue of Japan.
The fight in Saitama, Japan was a classic and picked as 2019 Fight of the Year. Donaire may have lost but he gave the boxing world a reminder of how good he was and still is.
A few weeks ago, the 37-year-old Donaire (40-6,26KO’s) was named by the WBC as the mandatory challenger for bantamweight champ Nordine Oubaali of France. We can expect to see more of him in 2020.
JOHN RIEL CASIMERO – The notable road warrior, who has seen action in nine different countries, did not start the decade on a high note. Casimero would lose his WBO interim light flyweight belt to Ramon Garcia Hirales by a split verdict in Mexico and would get stopped by Moruti Mthalane in South Africa eight months later.
But in 2012, he was back in the world title picture when he beat Argentine Luis Alberto Lazarte in ten rounds, a fight remembered for an ugly post-fight ring riot in Buenos Aires. His reign as the IBF light flyweight champion had two successful defences on the road and one at home but was ruined when he was supposed to defend for the fourth time and lost his belt at the scales in the Philippines in 2014.
In 2015, he figured in an ugly foul-fest against the IBF champ at flyweight, Thailand’s Amnat Ruenroeng and lost by unanimous decision in Bangkok. He got his revenge a year later on neutral territory when he knocked out Ruenroeng in Beijing, China. Casimero would defend once, stopping Charlie Edwards in ten rounds in London.
He would give up his belt, and in an ill-fated move at 115 lbs, he would get upset by countryman Jonas Sultan by unanimous decision in 2017. Casimero started rebuilding, this time as a bantamweight and would win the interim WBO belt before meeting the WBO champion Zolani Tete of South Africa in Birmingham last November.
In what would be his biggest career victory, Casimero stopped Tete in three rounds. He is now in the mix to face Inoue in what would be a blockbuster fight if it happens in 2020. The 30-year-old Casimero ends the decade with a career record of 29-4,20KO’s.
BRIAN VILORIA – the Hawaiian Punch traces his roots to the Ilocos region of the Philippines. He also did not start the decade well, losing the IBF light flyweight title by twelfth round TKO to Colombian Carlos Tamara in Pasay City, Metro Manila. Viloria was ahead on two of judges’ cards prior to the dramatic stoppage.
He also went on a rebuilding process and fight one division higher. In 2011 beat Mexican Julio Cesar Miranda by unanimous decision in Honolulu for the WBO flyweight title. He would defend in Metro Manila twice, with TKO wins against Giovani Segura and Omar Nino Romero.
He would then face the WBA champion, Hernan Marquez of Mexico, in a unification bout in 2012. Viloria stopped Marquez in ten rounds to become the first flyweight unified world champion since 1965.
But he would lose his belts to another Mexican, Juan Francisco Estrada, in Macao five months later. Despite his efforts, Viloria never won another world title. He would lose to Nicaraguan Roman Gonzalez and Ukranian Artem Dalakian.
The decision loss to Dalakian for the vacant WBA flyweight crown in 2018 would be the last fight of Viloria’s career. He retired with a record of 38-6,23KO’s.
JERWIN ANCAJAS – The current IBF junior bantamweight champion has been tagged as one of the future faces of Philippines boxing. He languished in relative obscurity for the most part of the decade. He suffered his only career loss in 2012 in Cebu by majority decision against another Filipino contender, Mark Anthony Geraldo.
In 2016, Ancajas waited for nine months before his title shot against Puerto Rico’s McJoe Arroyo finally happened. It was held inside a Philippine Marine base in Taguig City, Metro Manila and was offered free to the public. Ancajas showed his versatility and poise as a boxer-puncher and captured the IBF title by unanimous decision.
He would defend his title eight times with a 7W-1D,6KO’s record, all on the road in Macao, Australia, Northern Ireland, United States and Mexico. In one of his defences in the U.S. last year, he beat countryman Jonas Sultan by unanimous decision in the first Filipino vs Filipino world championship match since 1925 when World flyweight champion Pancho Villa beat Clever Sencio in the Philippines. The 27-year-old Ancajas (32-1-2,22KO’s) is still searching for a big-name opponent. He has bared his intentions to fight the other title-holders at 115 lbs like WBC champ Juan Francisco Estrada, Khalid Yafai of the U.K., who holds the WBA title and Japanese Kazuto Ioka has the WBO crown.
PEDRO TADURAN – The current IBF world minimumweight champion won the vacant title against Samuel Salva last September. This was the third all-Filipino world title fight for the past two years and the first on local shores since 1925. Taduran overcame a first-round knockdown and bombarded Salva in rounds three and four. An exhausted Salva chose not to answer the bell for the fifth.
A year prior, Taduran lost in his first title shot to WBC minimumweight champion Chayaphom Moonsri (Wanheng Menayothin) of Thailand by unanimous decision. The 23-year-old Taduran (14-2,11KO’s) turned pro in 2015 and his first defence is yet to be announced.
There were other Filipinos who had short-lived reigns as world titleholders in the past decade – Merlito Sabillo, Marlon Tapales, Milan Melindo, Vic Saludar and on the distaff side, Ana Julaton. But the one who created quite a stir was Sonny Boy Jaro, who upset long-reigning WBC Flyweight champion Pongsaklek Wonjongkam of Thailand in 2012. Jaro’s sixth-round TKO win in Chonburi, Thailand was chosen by Ring magazine as the Upset of the Year. He lost in his first defence to Japanese Toshiyuki Igarashi by split decision. Jaro is still active with a 45-15-5,32KO’s record.