By Nick Giongco
Ring icon Manny Pacquiao continued to make heads turn at a time when just about everyone of his contemporaries had been saying their goodbyes one by one.
While Pacquiao only had two fights—against Adrien Broner in January and Keith Thurman in July—the one with the latter carried the most weight as the then 40-year-old Filipino star dealt a fighter 10 years his junior his first defeat.
Defending the World Boxing Association welterweight crown for the second time since winning it in July in Kuala Kumpur, Pacquiao floored the brash Thurman in the first round en route to a split decision win.
Pacquiao didn’t get to return for a third time and is looking at an April 2020 comeback, allowing John Riel Casimero to grab the spotlight towards the end of the year with an explosive knockout of Zolani Tete of South Africa on Nov. 30 in Birmingham, England.
The third-round KO victory awarded Casimero the World Boxing Organization bantamweight crown. More importantly, it enabled him to become only the fourth Filipino boxer to win at least three world titles in as many weight classes.
Pacquiao is the topmost with an unprecedented eight while Donnie Nietes and Nonito Donaire are four-division titleholders.
Casimero’s smashing showing likewise triggered a loud call for him to face Naoya Inoue of Japan, the conqueror of Donaire, the soonest.
Overshadowed by Casimero’s meteoric rise was Jerwin Ancajas’ two title defenses of his International Boxing Federation super-flyweight crown in Stockton, California, in May and in Puebla, Mexico, in the first week of December.
The year also produced another world champion in Pedro Taduran, who became the International Boxing Federation mini-flyweight champion in September by stopping compatriot Samuel Salva.
Still, it was Casimero’s tripping of Tete in England that made him the most accomplished local puncher outside of Pacquiao.
There were sorry losses along the way.
Light-flyweight Edward Heno made a gallant attempt to win a world title while ex-world champion Marlon Tapales was stunned by Ryosuke Iwasa in Brooklyn, New York.
Donaire also ran out of luck in early-November when he bowed to Japanese star Naoya Inoue in a thriller of a tussle in Saitama, costing him the WBA bantamweight crown.
At 35, Donaire, 35, had his moments and became the first fighter to bring Inoue to deep waters. But Inoue was just younger and fresher of the two.
Then, there was the case of featherweight Reinerio Arizala, who almost lost his life in Yokohama after suffering a KO loss.
Thanks to Japanese doctors, Arizala miraculously survived and is now working at the Games and Amusements Board.