As the decade draws to a close, the ESPN5.com editorial staff look back at the sporting figures and moments that stood out and helped define Philippine sports in the 2010s. Check back regularly until December 31 for the latest features in our ESPN5.com Best of the Decade series.
We honor the athletes who excelled in the 2010s, those who made their mark, raised the bar, and collected championship trophies along the way. Manny Pacquiao was undoubtedly the most famous Filipino fighter in the 2010s, but even he tasted defeat. Donnie Nietes didn't, and he also collected championship belts in four different weight divisions. No other Filipino fighter did what Ahas did in the past decade, which is why we named him to our Athletes of the Decade.
In the past decade, Manny Pacquiao still drew the most attention - and undoubtedly made the most money - when it came to Philippine boxing. The 2000s was when Pacman really became a worldwide sensation, but he also had a great run in the 2010s starting with a victory against Joshua Clottey before cementing his legacy as the only eight-division world champion when he defeated Antonio Margarito for the vacant World Boxing Council super welterweight title. However, Pacquiao also suffered through a rough patch, losing matches to Timothy Bradley, Juan Manuel Marquez, Floyd Mayweather, and Jeff Horn. In total, he had a 12-4-0 tally this decade.
Nonito Donaire also had a good run with a 18-5-0 record from 2010. He ran roughshod over the super flyweight, bantamweight, and super bantamweight divisions with a killer run of knockout wins against the likes of Hernan Marquez, Volodymyr Sydorenko, Fernando Montiel, Toshiaki Nishioka, and Jorge Arce.
Meanwhile, two youngsters made their marks inside the ring in the 2010s. Jerwin Ancajas has reigned as the International Boxing Federation (IBF) super flyweight champion since 2016, the longest-reigning champion in that division, while John Riel Casimero won belts in three different weight divisions.
However, there was one Filipino boxer who went undefeated in the decade: Donnie "Ahas" Nietes, whose 17-0-2 record since 2010 included a title run through four weight divisions.
Nietes opened the decade by welcoming all sorts of challenges, the first of which was Jesus Silvestre (15-1-0). The fight was a taste of the action at the light flyweight division for Nietes and he found out that he had the power to be successful at 108 pounds with a tenth-round technical knockout win against the Mexican at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay.
Next up was a title defense of the World Boxing Organization minimumweight title on enemy territory as Nietes took on Mario Rodriguez (10-5-3) in Mexico. The Filipino puncher had no problem going back home with the title he won in 2007 with a lopsided unanimous decision victory.
His four-year reign as the WBO 105-pound champion ended in 2011 when he permanently moved up to the light flyweight division. As a WBO titleholder, Nietes was immediately given a shot at the 108-pound belt against the reigning champion Ramon Garcia Hirales (16-2-1).
Nietes won this fight via unanimous decision and he defended the title nine times, capping it with a stoppage win against Raul Garcia (38-3-1) in 2016.
Wanting to chase bigger fights north, Ahas continued moving up in weight as he claimed the vacant WBO Inter-Continental Flyweight title against Edgar Sosa (52-9-0) and then won another world title in the International Boxing Federation's 112-pound belt in his lone fight in 2017 against Thailand's Komgrich Nantapech (22-3-0).
Nietes only defended this title once against Juan Carlos Reveco (39-3-0), a fight he won via seventh-round technical knockout before moving up again to the super flyweight division.
An all-Filipino battle for the title awaited Nietes at 115 pounds as he went up against the younger Aston Palicte. While everyone thought Nietes got the better of his foe, the match was ruled a draw. This would just be a temporary setback for Nietes as he got another shot at the WBO super flyweight title in Macau against Japan's Kazuto Ioka (23-1-0). Ahas eked out a split decision victory to become only the third Filipino boxer to win at a world title in at least four weight divisions after Manny Pacquiao and Nonito Donaire.
Next up for Nietes would have been a rematch against Palicte but it was a fight that Ahas did not want. Instead of being forced into a mandatory title defense, Nietes decided to relinquish the belt a couple of months after winning it. On the wrong side of 35, Nietes realized he only has a handful of fights in his career but, unfortunately, he could not land a big match in 2019. He would have wanted a shot at the other champions in the division including WBA's Khalid Yafai, WBC's Juan Francisco Estrada, or the IBF's Jerwin Ancajas but nothing came into fruition leaving him without a single match in the last year of the decade.
Still, Nietes leaves the 2010s undefeated, with the best record of any Filipino boxer over that period (including 13-0-2 in world title fights), and a winner of world titles in three weight divisions. Very few Filipino athletes, in any sport, can match these accomplishments over the last 10 years.