When boxing websites and publications are giving out their annual awards, the ”Filipino Flash” Nonito Donaire will be an almost universal choice for 2012’s Fighter of the Year.
The reigning WBO super bantamweight champ retained his crown with a venomous three round KO over a game but outgunned Jorge Arce earlier this month, a result that raised the Filipino’s record to 31-1 with 20 KOs. It was Donaire’s fourth victory of the year – all in world title fights.

At the age of 30 it would seem that Donaire is beginning to realize that time, while still on his side by modern boxing terms, is nevertheless not standing still. Despite his phenomenal talent, Donaire has had an almost leisurely approach to his boxing career. He has never fought more than four bouts in a calender year previously in his career, and did that just twice before, in 2001 and 2005.

He is a young 30, and has suffered very little wear-and-tear in his eleven year career. But the incredible physical advantages that he held over opponents when he fought at flyweight are not as evident as he continues to climb the weight classes. Sure, he overwhelmed Arce impressively and cut down Toshiaki Nishioka in nine rounds in October, but if ever a fighter was made for Donaire it was Arce, and although still competitive  Nishioka looked well past his best at 36.

Donaire had labored recently in bouts vs Jeffrey Mathebula, Wilfredo Vasquez Jr and Omar Narvaez, all of whom went the distance. His most recent KO wins have done much to reestablish the Filipino’s reputation as a power-puncher with the paying public, and must also have gone a long way in restoring his own faith in his abilities. And not a moment too soon – Donaire could well face the likes of Cuba’s WBA super bantamweight champ Guillermo Rigondeaux and Mexico’s WBC title holder Abner Mares in 2013, two outstanding but very different fighters that would seem well capable of truly testing the Flash.

Should he come through those tests, his stock-in-trade will soar to even greater heights, and there will be no end of potential super-fights waiting for him, against standout names like Chris John, Orlando Salido, Yuriorkis Gamboa and Adrian Broner.

Donaire once said his ambition was to emulate his fistic idol and countryman Manny Pacquiao and climb the weight classes all the way up to welterweight. It remains to be seen if his 5′ 5” frame could carry that kind of poundage, and if his skills and power would be effective against taller, heavier opposition. Still, nobody thought that Pacquiao could do it, but he succeeded. At 30, Pacquiao had already lost three times, twice by KO, and had been involved in several titanic struggles in fights where he had absorbed heavy punishment. By comparison, Donaire is as fresh as the proverbial Daisy.

One gets the feeling that impressive as Donaire’s 2012 was, it was little more than a warm up for 2013 and beyond. Watch this space!

Dan Hunter is the editor of The Boxing Post and the author of the weight training and fitness ebook Urban Muscle