Two boxers, golfer share PSA top award
(The Philippine Star) - January 10, 2016 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines – Two ring gladiators and a rising, young star whose compelling exploits on the world stage gave Philippine sports its greatest moments in 2015 share center stage on Feb. 13 as co-Athletes of the Year in the Philippine Sportswriters Association Awards Night at One Esplanade in Pasay City.

Boxing champions Donnie Nietes and Nonito Donaire Jr. along with Asian Tour leg winner Miguel Tabuena carved out memorable victories one after the other in a year when success stories were few and far between.

For their feats, the three have been named co-Athletes of the Year during the PSA annual rites presented by Milo and San Miguel Corp., marking the first time in the last three years that three awardees are sharing the highest title solely bestowed by the country’s oldest media organization on deserving athletes and teams who made their mark during the year.

Donaire, lady boxer Josie Gabuco, Team Manila, and the Ateneo Blue Eagles shared the Athlete of the Year honor in 2012.

This is the fourth time Donaire (2007, 2011, 2012) will be feted by the sportswriting fraternity with the same award, while it will be the first for both Nietes and Tabuena.

“Nonito Donaire Jr., Donnie Nietes, and Miguel Tabuena again showed and proved to the world what Filipino athletes are made of as proof of their triumph and success in their respective fields last year. As the country’s sources of pride, all three are truly deserving of the Athlete of the Year honor,” said PSA president Riera Mallari of the Manila Standard.

Donaire made a successful ring comeback in 2015 as he went down in weight and fought again as a super-bantamweight.

Fighting for the first time since losing to Nicholas Walters in their world featherweight title match, the “Filipino Flash” pounded out a second round technical knockout win over William Prado in March, and did the same against Anthony Settoul four months later.

The biggest feat of  the 33-year-old Donaire was his conquest of tough Mexican Cesar Juarez for the vacant World Boxing Organization (WBO) super-bantamweight title in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The Filipino knocked down Juarez twice in the fourth round, but settled for a unanimous decision after going through the wringer in this bout nominated for world boxing’s  Fight of the Year award.

Nietes, meanwhile, began 2015 by officially becoming the longest-reigning Filipino world champion after surpassing the long-standing record of seven years and three months held by the late great Gabriel “Flash” Elorde.

But the pride of Murcia, Negros Occidental and top fighter of Cebu-based ALA Promotions, showed he’s out to extend his reign as WBO light flyweight titleholder.

The 33-year-old Nietes successfully defended his 108-lb belt against Gilberto Parra, Francisco Rodriguez Jr., and Juan Alejo in a smashing 12-round unanimous decision during his US debut at the StubHub Center in Carson, California.

Then, there’s Tabuena.

The young pro overcame Scott Barr of Australia by a single stroke to win his first ever Philippine Open championship.

The 21-year-old Tabuena highlighted his victory by sinking six birdies in the homestretch to tame anew the Luisita Golf and Country Club in Tarlac, where he set the course record just three months earlier.

Inclement weather forced organizers to reduce the tournament to a 54-hole event, but this would not take the luster away from Tabuena’s very first victory on the Asian Tour.

Before that Phl Open assault, Tabuena, a former jungolf star, rattled off four victories on the local pro circuit en route to winning the Order of Merit title that ended Tony Lascuña’s three-year reign as the top Filipino golfer.

Aside from the Athlete of the Year, major awards and citations will also be given out to athletes, entities, and organizations.

Also to be honored are the gold medal winners during the country’s campaign in the 28th Southeast Asian Games in Singapore.

The PSA will also hand out the President’s Award, Executive of the Year, National Sports Association of the Year, Lifetime Achievement Award, and Posthumous Award.

Others to be presented are the Tony Siddayao Awards for outstanding athletes aged 17 or younger, and the Milo Outstanding Athletes for boys and girls.

ACIRC ANTHONY SETTOUL ASIAN TOUR ATENEO BLUE EAGLES ATHLETE OF THE YEAR ATHLETES ATHLETES OF THE YEAR DONAIRE MIGUEL TABUENA TABUENA YEAR
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