Nonito Donaire Jr. turned out to be the undisputed choice as the finest performer in the Philippine Sportswriters Association honor roll for the merry month of December.
Though there were shining moments in chess, karate and golf, boxing took the main spotlight with Donaire, 39, pulling off another breakthrough showing in Carson, California, to retain his stranglehold on the World Boxing Council bantamweight crown on December 11.
The Filipino-American puncher was a total badass as he took out mandatory challenger Reymart Gaballo with a wicked body shot in the fourth round.
It wasn’t all too sparkling for boxing as John Riel Casimero could not defend his World Boxing Organization bantam jewels after getting sick on the eve of the fight in Dubai where Jayson Mama faltered in winning the International Boxing Federation fly diadem.
Also, Robert Paradero was knocked out in an attempt to win the super World Boxing Association (WBA) minimumweight diadem in Phuket during the month, and Vic Saludar lost his WBA strap in Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic three days before Christmas.
Woman’s Grandmaster Janelle Mae Frayna also made a lot of heads turn.
Frayna outplayed Shania Mae Mendoza to capture the National Women’s Chess Championships to solidify her status as the country’s top bet in women’s play.
Karate also provided some fireworks in the run-up to the last few days of 2021 as Junna Tsukii and Jamie Lim brought home silver medals from the AKF Asian Karate Championships in Almaty, Kazakhstan.
Tsukii bowed to hometown entry Moldir Zhangbyrbay in the -50 kilogram division, while Lim lost to Sarah Almeri of the United Arab Emirates in the -61 kilogram class.
Over at the fairways, Sam Dizon topped the girls division of the Singapore Junior Golf Championships at the Keppel Club.
On local front, Manila Southwoods ran away with the Fil Championships, while Time Cargo ruled the Am Championships at the Fil-Am Invitational at the Baguio Country Club.
The Philippine Basketball Association, meanwhile, got a sense of normalcy when it kicked off the Governors’ Cup.