MANILA, Philippines – It’s been quite a year for Nonito “The Filipino Flash” Donaire (30-1, 19 knockouts).
For a fighter of his caliber, ranked among the best in the world, fighting 4 times in a year is simply unheard of. Yet here he is, set to take on another steep challenge against a formidable, big-name opponent – his 4th in 2012.
Donaire has beaten highly touted Puerto Rican Wilfredo Vasquez Jr. to capture the vacant WBO Super Bantamweight title, the long and rangy South African Jeffrey Mathebula for the IBF Super Bantamweight title, and a fast but timid Toshiaki Nishioka of Japan in defense of those belts.
Next up, at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas, Donaire will take on Jorge “El Travieso” Arce (61-6, 46 knockouts) of Los Mochis, Sinaloa, Mexico on Saturday, December 15 (Sunday, Manila time) to defend his 122-pound belt against the former titleholder.
Arce, better known as "The Lollipop Cowboy," has been in countless ring wars. Though he usually enters the ring with a cowboy hat on and a lollipop in his mouth, there is nothing child-like about the way the aggressive, all-action Mexican fights.
But still, Donaire is installed as the odds-on favorite in this matchup. Most analysts give Arce no chance because of the stylistic advantage Donaire holds.
Either way, both boxers have said they are going for a knockout.
Arce is a come-forward, face first type of fighter who’s made a career out of putting a beatdown on opponents for the duration of 12 rounds. He’s banked on sooner or later being able to overwhelm them with pressure.
And for the better part of his 16 years as a prizefighter it’s worked wonders for him.
Against Donaire however, many feel Arce would be picked apart masterfully by the faster, more powerful Filipino-American standout.
Donaire fights from the outside, carefully dissecting his opponent’s style, finding the perfect strategy in-game to dispose of the man in front of him. It is Donaire’s superior ring intelligence that works behind all the physical gifts and natural-born talent.
Stylistically, Donaire is expected to box Arce to death and stop him within the distance, but it’s not like Arce doesn’t have a fighting chance.
Arce is always terribly behind on predictions of analysts because of the rugged way he fights. Against any live opponent, he’ll surely be the underdog.
The great thing about the Sinaloa native is, he brushes all that aside and fights the way he fights anyway. And usually, it produces great results.
Learning from Vasquez Jr.
The two fighters have fought a common opponents in the past: Wilfredo Vasquez Jr. Arce fought the Puerto Rican in 2011 while Donaire fought him in 2012.
Against Vasquez Jr., Arce fell behind early on the scorecards, but still fought like a true warrior to the end. By the middle rounds, Vasquez Jr. was starting to succumb to Arce’s pressure and it was only a matter of time until Arce came out victorious over the previously unbeaten Vasquez Jr.
Vasquez Jr., like Donaire, was known as a crafty, technical stylist who liked to box rather than brawl. But fighters like Arce, who keep the in-your-face pressure on and never let up usually break down timid fighters who turn gun-shy in the face of adversity.
For Donaire, it was a different experience. Donaire was expected to out-speed and out-maneuver Vasquez Jr. and stop him with his vicious counter left hook. In stark contrast however, Donaire had a tough time finding the elusive Vasquez Jr. To make matters worse, Donaire looked sluggish and ineffective in his first foray into the 122 lb. weight division.
Donaire went on to beat Vasquez Jr. by an uninspiring 12-round split decision.
Keys to the fight
Though Arce may definitely be the underdog in this fight, it’s not to say that he doesn’t have a fighting chance. What Arce needs to do is find a way to get within range of Donaire and get to in-fighting, then do what he does best -- build the pressure.
If Arce can manage to dig his head in Donaire’s chest and be in his face for the majority of this fight, he’ll have a chance at overwhelming the more gifted fighter. Donaire doesn’t like pressure and Arce is a master of it.
For Donaire, he needs to stick to what’s gotten him to the top pound-for-pound regardless of weight divisions. He needs to box from the outside and find a way to land his vaunted left hook, right now the most dangerous punch in boxing.
If Donaire can dial in that stinging left counter and time Arce on his way inside, then it will be short and easy work for the Pinoy speedster.
This matchup is as straightforward as it comes - the classic boxer versus brawler fight that promises fireworks and has fans salivating. It will be an awesome spectacle for however long it lasts.
Look for Donaire to start off slow like he usually does, testing Arce’s power and finding the range at which to operate. As Arce steps up the pressure, Donaire will start to set up his power shots and dig at Arce’s body to start to break him down.
We’ll see Donaire land cleanly and accurately against the very predictable Jorge Arce who only knows how to come forward.
By the late rounds, Donaire will have slowed down Arce. Like a true Mexican however, Arce won’t back away. In the end, Arce’s own aggression will get the better of him.
This fight won’t go the distance. Donaire will land that phantom left hook of his with enough destructive force to take out a metropolis and Arce won’t see it coming. He’ll be decked, down and out by round number 9 in the slam-bang year ender.
With the win, Donaire will make a strong case as ‘Fighter of the Year’ with 4 impressive victories in 2012.
Rappler’s Pick: Donaire via TKO in Round 9. - Rappler.com