HOUSTON – A fight for personal glory, a fight for Philippine pride.
Filipino Nonito Donaire Jr. stakes his World Boxing Organization (WBO) super-bantamweight title belt on Saturday night (Sunday, Manila time) against tough Mexican Jorge Arce in a marquee showdown the two top fighters of the division guaranteed would not go the distance.
The bout is set for 12 rounds at the 18,000-seat capacity Toyota Center here, and comes exactly a week since Juan Manuel Marquez pulled off a scintillating knockout win over Philippine pride Manny Pacquiao at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas in a likely Fight of the Year candidate.
Obviously, hopes are high for an Arce win following Marquez’s remarkable victory. The win (over Pacquiao) after all, has lifted the spirits of Mexican fighters, according to Arce’s corner.
Also serving as a big boost to Arce is the presence in his corner of veteran Nacho Beristain, the life-long trainer of Marquez, who is also coming over from Mexico City to give his 33-year-old compatriot a lift.
But Donaire doesn’t see a repeat of that fateful December 8 thrashing inflicted on Philippine boxing with the heartbreaking loss of Pacquiao.
“All of that energy, all of that push from the victory (from them) will help them in the beginning. But once na makita niya na matapang ako, matibay ako, malakas akong sumuntok, and that I’m a difficult opponent, mawawala `yun,” said the 30-year-old champion, who has a record of 30-1, with 19 KOs.
“It’s like a sugar rush. It will skyrocket (at first), but then will drop down very hard.”
Unbeaten since 2001, Donaire is making the third defense of his WBO title belt and fights for the fourth time this year following victories over Wilfredo Vazquez Jr., Jeffrey Mathebula, and Toshiaki Nishioka.
While all three are top-notch fighters, Arce stands head and shoulders above them.
A four-time division world champion, the native of Los Mochis, Sinaloa is confident of knocking out the Filipino with either hand. He also declared himself 'as the new surprise' with the belief he’ll be able to duplicate the same stunning feat pulled off by countryman Marquez.
Donaire is also looking to end the fight in a knockout although trainer Robert Garcia wants him to fight smart as Arce is a warrior "and a tremendous fighter who keeps on coming and coming at you.”
“I think it will happen, nakikita ko yun (knockout),” added the Filipino, who plans to come in at around 127 to 128 lbs on fight night.
“Kung makita ko yun, kukunin ko. It’s about setting up and being smart.”
But Arce (61-6-2, 46 KOs) already had some concerns prior to the fight. During the official weigh-in at the PlazAmericas Mall, the Mexican had to strip naked just to be able to meet the 122-lb. limit, while Donaire easily came in at 121.5 lbs.
Laurence Cole will be the third man in the ring, while the three judges scoring the fight are Raul Caiz Sr., Levi Martinez, and Javier Alvarez.