MANILA, Philippines - Four world champions, led by Hall of Famer Manny Pacquiao, lead the cast of international and Philippine champions in the 14th Gabriel “Flash” Elorde Memorial Awards on March 25 at the Harbour Garden Tent of the Sofitel Hotel.
WBO light flyweight champion Donnie Nietes, International Boxing Federation light flyweight title holder Johnriel Casimero, WBO minimumweight titlist Merlito Sabillo and comebacking Nonito Donaire will be on stage to receive their awards as boxers of the year in the annual awards held in honor of The Flash.
Elorde is the first Filipino to be inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame with his unbeaten record as world junior lightweight champion from 1960 to 1967.
In 2013, Nietes defeated two Mexicans to retain his WBO light flyweight title he wrested from Ramon Garcia Hirales of Mexico at the La Salle Coliseum in Bacolod on Oct. 8, 2011.
His first defense was a majority decision over Moises Fuentes on March 2 at the Cebu City Waterfront Hotel while his second defense was a convincing third round knockout of Sammy Gutierrez on Nov. 30.
Casimero, who turned 24 on Feb. 13, retained his IBF light flyweight crown thrice, twice in 2013 when he scored a unanimous decision over Luis Alberto Rios of Panama in Panama City on March 16. He finished the year with an 11th round TKO of Felipe Salguero also of Panama in Makati on Oct. 26.
Sabillo launched his campaign on the world stage last year by winning the interim WBO minimumweight title and defending it twice, the last with a draw to finish the year with a 23-0-1 record, seven by knockout.
The 24-year-old from Toboso, Negros Oriental, wrested the WBO minimumweight crown with an eighth round stoppage of Luis dela Rosa of Colombia on March 9 in Cerete, Colombia. He retained the title via a ninth round TKO of Jorie Estrada also of Colombia on July 13 and a split decision over Carlos Bultrago of Nicaragua on Nov. 30 at the Araneta Coliseum.
Donaire started 2013 with a loss where he ceded his WBO title to Guillermo Regondeau on April 13 in New York City.He came back on Nov. 9 to make up for that loss and proclaim he is back on the world stage with a ninth round stoppage of old nemesis Vic Darchinyan in Texas.
Pacquaio, champion in eight different divisions at the height of his ring career, will not receive an award, having received the highest award, an induction into the Elorde Hall of Fame. Instead he will be in attendance to head the elite Elorde Banquet of Champions which will include world, international and Philippine champions, with the Elorde family as host.
The Elorde clan is presenting the annual Elorde awards in celebration of the 79th birth anniversary of the boxing legend who compiled a ring record of 89-27-2, 33 by knockout.
His wife Laura will lead the Elorde clan in the award presentation.