Nonito Donaire: Fighter of the year?

Carlos Cinco

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After his convincing win over Jorge Arce in 3 rounds, Nonito Donaire has set a legitimate claim to 'Fighter of the Year' honors

MANILA, Philippines – Nonito Donaire walked into the ring amidst a chorus of boos from a predominantly Mexican crowd Saturday, December 15 at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas.

Then just 9 minutes later, he walked out of it, still WBO Super Bantamweight world champion, this time amidst cheers. 

The fans knew they had witnessed something spectacular.

“The Filipino Flash” gave his enthusiastic but overmatched opponent, Jorge “El Travieso” Arce all he could handle over 3 short but punishing rounds, mercifully ending the night with his signature left hook.

Picking Arce apart

In Round 1, Arce started out timidly, perhaps looking to size up Donaire and fight smart at a distance. Donaire loaded up on his power shots and repeatedly found Arce within range, landing a throng of straight right hands and stinging jabs.

From the early going, it appeared as if Arce was in a lot of trouble in trying to deal with Donaire’s length, speed and power, as was the case for all of Donaire’s previous opponents.

Donaire picked up the pace in Round 2 and so did Arce, who abandoned Plan ‘A’ of trying to stick and move with the Filipino and went straight to Plan ‘B’ which was to be himself – an in-your-face pressure fighter.

Arce dug a few times to the body which Donaire admitted surprised him, and he did land a couple of good head shots but it was all part of Donaire’s game plan. Donaire wanted to bait Arce within range, let the proud Mexican warrior increase his aggression, and use that against him.

In a quick flurry at the center of the ring, Donaire shot a short straight right that had Arce staggered as his right glove grazed the canvas. It was an official knockdown as referee Laurence Cole gave Arce a mandatory standing 8-count.

That was the beginning of the Nonito Donaire highlight reel.

Donaire then attacked Arce and put every bit of his blinding fast speed and monstrous power on display. With his hands down and full of confidence, Donaire winged shots left and right, which more often than not found its mark.

The fight saw Donaire in a frightful berserker’s rage. Every punch he threw had bad intentions.

Arce retirement

Surprisingly, in Round 3 Arce regained his footing as he continued to bull his way into Donaire’s range, trying to work the Filipino’s body.

But Donaire was simply too much for the 33-year-old veteran to overcome. 

After a furious combination that sent Arce to the canvas again for the second time, Donaire looked to set up one last big shot to cap off the night.

This time, it wasn’t a counter left hook Donaire ended the fight with, it was a lead. Donaire slightly dipped a feint to Arce’s body but went right upstairs.

With all the momentum swinging in full force towards his glove, Donaire landed a concussive lead left hook to the right side of Arce’s jaw and dropped the Mexican hard at the 2:59 mark, eerily reminiscent of the Pacquiao-Marquez ending that took place just a week ago.

Referee Laurence Cole waved him off and credited the knockout victory to Donaire who improves his record to 31-1 with 20 knockouts.

Arce’s been in countless ring wars and told Larry Merchant after the fight that this was the last he would be in. After a 16-year professional career that saw him in numerous epic ring wars spanning 70 fights, Jorge Arce announced his retirement from active competition.

Fighter of the year?

It was a masterful performance from the Filipino Flash who fought with a hand injury he suffered in the Nishioka fight, one that had not yet completely healed.

Donaire’s left hand required stitches after it burst open due to all the hard shots he had landed with it against the former Japanese world champion, but it didn’t seem to bother him against Arce.

Donaire admitted he had not used his left hand much during training because he didn’t want to aggravate the injury before the fight, saying he was a little worried at how it would hold up come fight night.

It was a great win for Donaire, who had an amazing run in 2012, and also a great win for the Philippines who are still morose from Pacquiao’s unexpected knockout loss to rival Marquez.

With the win, Donaire completes his four-fight tour of duty in 2012 and now has a legitimate claim to “Fighter of the Year” honors, competing against Andre “S.O.G.” Ward for the prestige. –

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