MANILA, DECEMBER 29, 2010 (STAR) By Joaquin Henson [PHOTO - Donnie Nietes (inset) and Ana (Hurricane) Julaton]

As the year comes to a close, WBC superwelterweight and WBO welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao continues to reign supreme as the country’s standard bearer in global boxing but several Filipino contenders are slowly climbing up the ladder as heirs apparent.

There were 17 world title fights involving Filipino fighters in 2010 and Pacquiao accounted for two of the four wins. Pacquiao, 32, retained his WBO welterweight crown via a unanimous 12-round decision over Ghana’s Joshua Clottey last March and captured the vacant WBC superwelterweight diadem by outpointing Mexico’s Antonio Margarito last month. Both bouts were held at the Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

The other two Filipino wins were registered by WBO minimumweight titleholder Donnie Nietes and WBO female superbantamweight queen Ana (Hurricane) Julaton. Nietes, 28, decisioned Mexico’s Mario Rodriguez in Sinaloa last August. Julaton, 30, beat Maria Elena Villalobos on a split 10-round decision to bag the vacant WBO diadem in Ontario last June.

Nietes has ruled the WBO 105-pound division since 2007 and has repulsed four challengers in a row, three in Mexico. His record is 27-1-3, with 15 KOs. Julaton is the third Filipino to end the year as a world champion. Her record is 7-2-1, with one KO.

Filipinos who lost in world title fights were Brian Viloria, Ronelle Ferreras, Juanito Rubillar (twice), Eric Barcelona, Rodel Mayol, Balweg Bangoyan, Richie Mepranum, Ciso Morales, Marvin Sonsona, Bernabe Concepcion and Julaton. Mayol figured in a technical draw with Mexico’s Omar Niño Romero to retain his WBC lightflyweight title in Guadalajara last February but lost the throne in a rematch in Queretaro last July.

Viloria yielded his IBF lightflyweight diadem to Carlos Tamara on a 12th round knockout at the Cuneta Astrodome last January. Ferreras was outpointed by Gideon Buthelezi for the vacant IBO minimumweight championship in South Africa last June. Rubillar lost a majority decision to Hekkie Budler for the vacant IBO lightflyweight crown in South Africa last February and a split verdict in a rematch last June. Barcelona was decisioned by Vic Darchinyan for the vacant IBO bantamweight crown in Australia last May. Bangoyan was halted by Toshiaki Nishioka in a WBC superbantamweight title bout in Tokyo last April.

Mepranum was stopped by Mexico’s Julio Cesar Miranda for the vacant WBO flyweight title in Puebla last June. Morales was knocked out by WBO bantamweight king Fernando Montiel in a round in Las Vegas last February. Sonsona was pulverized by Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. in four rounds for the WBO superbantamweight crown in Puerto Rico last February. Concepcion floored Juan Manuel Lopez in a furious first round then was stopped in the second in a WBO featherweight title contest in Puerto Rico last July.

Julaton lost to Lisa Brown on points for the vacant WBA female superbantamweight title last March but bounced back to defeat Villalobos for the WBO version.

The heirs apparent are WBC Continental Americas bantamweight champion Nonito Donaire Jr., WBA interim superflyweight titleholder Drian Francisco, WBC International minimumweight ruler Denver Cuello, WBC Youth Intercontinental flyweight king Milan Melindo, WBO Asia Pacific bantamweight champion A. J. Banal, North American Boxing Organization Youth lightweight titlist Mercito Gesta, Viloria, WBC No. 13 superlightweight contender Dennis Laurente and Oriental and Pacific Boxing Federation (OPBF) champions Rocky Fuentes, Michael Landero, Malcolm Tunacao and Jonel Alibio.

Donaire, 28, the former IBF flyweight and WBA interim superflyweight champion, mowed down three opponents this year – Manuel Vargas, Hernan Marquez and Vladimir Sidorenko – and will challenge Montiel for the WBC and WBO bantamweight belts at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas on Feb. 19. His record is 25-1, with 17 KOs.

Francisco, 28, captured the WBA interim superflyweight crown by halting Thailand’s Duangpetch Kokiet-gym in the 10th round last month. He is next in line for a shot at the WBA title held by Mexico’s Hugo Cazares. Francisco’s record is 20-0-1, with 16 KOs. Cuello, 24, picked up five wins and lost to Juan Hernandez on a highly-disputed third round disqualification in Mexico City this year. His record is 25-4-6, with 15 KOs. Cuello is rated No. 3 by the WBC in the minimumweight division. Melindo, 22, had three wins this year. He is rated No. 6 by the IBF and No. 12 by both the WBC and WBA as a flyweight. Melindo’s record is 23-0, with 7 KOs.

Banal, 21, has a 23-1-1 record, with 18 KOs, and is rated No. 4 by the IBF, No. 5 by the WBO, No. 7 by the WBA and No. 12 by the WBC in the bantamweight class. Gesta, 23, is based in San Diego and has a 20-0-1 record, with 10 KOs. The 5-7 slugger has won his last 10 outings in the US. Viloria, 30, is on the comeback trail and the former two-time world champion is now ranked No. 1 by the WBO as a flyweight. His record is 28-3, with 16 KOs. Laurente, 33, has won his last 13 fights, six in the US, and hasn’t lost since 2006. The former OPBF lightweight champion’s record is 36-3-5, with 18 KOs. Laurente’s predicament is he’s campaigning in the welterweight division where the opposition is extremely high-caliber.

Fuentes, 24, won four fights, three in Japan, this year to raise his record to 28-6-2, with 18 KOs. He is rated No. 5 by the WBC, No. 6 by the WBO and No. 8 by the WBA and IBF. Landero, 24, scored back-to-back knockout wins in Japan this year and has a 14-4-4 record, with 4 KOs. He is rated No. 8 by the WBA and No. 11 by the WBC. Tunacao, a former WBC flyweight titleholder, is bidding for another world title shot after three wins, one in Korea and two in Japan, this year. Now 32, Tunacao has a 27-2-3 record, with 16 KOs. Alibio, 25, stopped Naoki Matsuda in the sixth round for the OPBF featherweight belt in Tokyo last month and has a 16-10-2 record, with 7 KOs.

Two Filipinos who lost their OPBF titles this year were Allan Tañada and Randy Suico.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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