HOUSTON – Nonito Donaire Jr. hopes to end on a high note what Brian Viloria launched with a bang.
The four-part, month-long Philippine vs Mexico boxing war comes to a fitting end on Saturday (Sunday, Manila time) at the Toyota Center, with Donaire looking to score a significant win over challenger Jorge Arce for the fitting exclamation point to a campaign Viloria kicked off with a sensational 10th-round knockout of Hernan `Tyson’ Marquez in Los Angeles last November 17 to unify the world flyweight championship.
“We always see great fights between Philippines and Mexico,” said Robert Garcia, the trainer of Donaire, who also once handled Viloria’s corner.
The way things stand now, the Mexicans hold the upperhand at 2-1 in the title clashes. Although Viloria got the ball rolling for the Filipinos, it’s the Latinos who owned the most impressive victory so far courtesy of Juan Manuel Marquez’s brutal sixth-round knockout of Manny Pacquiao a week ago.
Mercito Gesta, a native of Mandaue City, Cebu now based in San Diego, California, accounted for the other loss of the Philippines when he dropped a unanimous decision against Miguel Vazquez in their International Boxing Federation lightweight title match in the undercard of the Pacquiao-Marquez match-up.
Now it’s up to Donaire to keep the fire burning for the Filipinos.
Giving Arce a shot in the arm in his World Boxing Organization super-bantamweight title bout with Donaire is the presence of veteran trainer Nacho Beristain in his corner and the expected attendance of the 39-year-old Marquez at ringside.
Beristain is the known life-long trainer of Marquez, who is a certified public accountant in Mexico.
Angel Heredia, the strength and conditioning coach of Marquez, also handled Arce’s initial training, but had to give it up after more than two weeks to fully concentrate on the Mexican’s fight against Pacquiao.
To all this, Donaire, 30, is hardly bothered.
“I don’t really care,” he said when asked about the matter. “This all comes down to only me and Arce being inside the ring.”
Donaire and Arce have been always friends outside the ring despite the fact the Mexican had been challenging him to a title fight as early as 2008.
But the champion expects the animosity to begin once the opening bell for the 12-round fight sounded.
“Come the fight, you will see how much grudge we have for each other. We have grudge inside the ring, but outside of it, we have respect for each other," he said.
“Whatever happens in that ring, stays in that ring. As a fighter, we just kind of leave it out there.”
Most especially if the country’s pride is at stake.