MANILA, DECEMBER 29, 2011 (STAR) By Joaquin Henson - The year 2011 comes to a close with five Filipino fighters recognized as world champions, a watermark in the history of Philippine boxing. In all, there were 13 world title bouts that featured Filipino boxers with WBO welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao, WBC/WBO bantamweight ruler Nonito Donaire, WBO flyweight king Brian Viloria and WBO female superbantamweight queen Ana Julaton accounting for two wins apiece. WBO lightflyweight champion Donnie Nietes chalked up a win, too. The overall tally showed nine wins and four losses.

Pacquiao, Donaire, Viloria, Julaton and Nietes are the country’s reigning world titleholders. Five Filipinos, meanwhile, rule as Orient and Pacific Boxing Federation (OPBF) champions – minimumweight Merlito Sabillo, flyweight Rocky Fuentes, bantamweight Rolly Lunas, superfeatherweight Ronald Pontillas and lightwelterweight Romeo Jakosalem.

Losing in bids for a world crown during the year were Arden Diale, Johnriel Casimero, Rommel Asenjo and Edrin Dapudong. Diale was stopped by WBO flyweight champion Julio Cesar Miranda of Mexico in the fourth round in Queretaro last February. Casimero was stopped in the fifth round by IBF flyweight champion Moruti Mthalane of South Africa in Johannesburg last March. Asenjo was halted by Mexico’s Raul Garcia in a WBO minimumweight title fight in Mexico City last April. Dapudong was knocked out by WBA flyweight king Hernan (Tyson) Marquez of Mexico in Sonora last July.

There were two Filipinos who lost in interim WBA championship fights. Last February, Renan Trongco was stopped by Mexico’s Sammy Gutierrez at 2:19 of the sixth round in an interim WBA minimumweight title bout in Buenos Aires. Gutierrez was decked in the first round and deducted a point in the sixth before disposing of the Filipino. Trongco, 22, has bounced back to score two straight knockouts in raising his record to 10-3, with 7 KOs. Last May, previously unbeaten Drian Francisco got up from a knockdown to lose a unanimous 12-round decision to Thailand’s Tepparith Kokietgym in an interim WBA superflyweight title match in Petchaburi. Early this month, Tepparith outpointed Japan’s Daiki Kameda to capture the WBA crown in Osaka.

Pacquiao, 33, showed the way with two successful defenses of his WBO 147-pound title, repulsing Sugar Shane Mosley last May and Juan Manuel Marquez last November, both on points. For the twin wins, Pacquiao earned a total paycheck of $42 Million, making him the world’s highest-earning athlete this year.

Donaire, 29, demolished Mexico’s Fernando Montiel in two rounds in Las Vegas last February and shut out previously undefeated Omar Narvaez of Argentina in New York City last October. The Filipino Flash has since surrendered his bantamweight crowns and will battle Puerto Rico’s Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. for the WBO superbantamweight title in San Antonio, Texas, on Feb. 4. Donaire has not tasted defeat in 10 years and is undefeated in his last 26 assignments. His record is 27-1, with 18 KOs. Donaire’s one-punch disposal of Montiel has been cited by Sports Illustrated as the Knockout of the Year.

Viloria, 31, wrested the WBO flyweight crown from Miranda in Honolulu last July and halted highly touted Giovani Segura of Mexico in the eighth round at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig two weeks ago. The Hawaiian Punch previously held the WBC and IBF lightflyweight titles. Since losing the IBF belt to Carlos Tamara last year, Viloria has won four in a row to improve his record to 30-3, with 17 KOs. Viloria’s win over Segura, ranked No. 9 in the world pound-for-pound honor roll, installed him as an elite high-echelon fighter. The right side of Segura’s face was grotesquely disfigured when referee Samuel Viruet stepped in to halt the carnage. Segura was confined four days at The Medical City before doctors cleared his release.

Julaton, 31, turned back rugged Franchesca Alcanter via a 10-round decision in a WBO female superbantamweight championship fight in Port Richmond, California, last February. She defeated Angel Gladney in a non-title bout in Miami last June then beat Mexico’s Jessica Villafranca on points to retain her WBO diadem in Yucatan last September. Julaton’s superiority over Villafranca was affirmed by the judges’ scorecards as Alejandro Lopez Cid saw it 98-91, Victor Salomon 96-93 and Levi Martinez 97-92. Julaton’s record is 10-2-1, with 1 KO.

Nietes, 29, relinquished his WBO minimumweight title to invade the 108-pound ranks and promptly, dethroned Mexico’s Ramon Garcia by a unanimous 12-round decision for the lightflyweight crown in Bacolod City last October. The judges had no difficulty choosing the winner as Carlos Ortiz Jr. had it 117-111, Lisa Giampa 118-110 and Danrex Tapdasan 115-113, all for the Filipino known as “Ahas.” Nietes hasn’t lost since 2004 and is unbeaten in his last 20 outings. His record is 29-1-3, with 16 KOs.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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