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Donaire: Tit for tat and exciting options

World Boxing Organization (WBO) super bantamweight champion Nonito Donaire easily disposed of Mexican four-division champion Jorge Arce in three rounds at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas Saturday night (Sunday in Manila). He sent the veteran gladiator to the canvas three times in the scheduled 12-rounder. With that victory, Donaire returned the favor after Arce’s fellow Mexican, Juan Manuel Marquez knocked out Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao at 2:59 of the sixth round one week earlier at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Donaire stopped Arce in 2:59 of the third round and sent the gritty Arce into retirement with a record of 61-7-2 (46 KOs) and US$800,000 in his bank account.

The quick ending did not come as a complete surprise to a number of boxing aficionados familiar with Arce’s charging, non-stop action fighting style that carried him through victory in 61 out of 80 fights, a record that will certainly enshrine him in boxing’s Hall of Fame.

Donaire acknowledged that Arce’s willingness to engage was tailor-made for him and an early knockout unlike his last three opponents who chose to counterpunch from a distance or adopt a defensive stance, with the exception of Toshiaki Nishioka who chose to mix it up with Donaire after being knocked down earlier. Nishioka was counted out in the ninth round.

For Arce to stay away and either remain on the defensive mode or to counterpunch would be like removing fish from the water. To his credit and as proof of his well-known courage, Arce tried to impose his will but could not do so in the face of Donaire’s longer reach, spear-like jabs, quick hands, power, agility and ring generalship. Arce tried to make a go of it and succeeded somewhat with Donaire admitting in a post-fight interview that “he (Arce) hurt me a little”. 

I was at ringside and witnessed Arce’s never-say-die spirit when he knocked out in the 12th round, the then undefeated reigning WBO super bantamweight champion, Wilfredo Vazquez Jr on May, 2011 in the undercard of the Manny Pacquiao-Sugar Shane Mosley fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. I was in the TV panel that was to do the commentary on the Pacquiao-Mosley encounter and I had commented that the bleeding Arce was so thoroughly outclassed by the Puerto Rican in almost every round. I added that either the referee stops the fight or Arce gets his head blown off by Vazquez. To my and many others amazement, Arce rallied and stopped Vazquez who ran out of steam.

For Donaire, the possibilities are legion. He’s certainly at the top of his game and a prime candidate for Fighter of the Year, having fought and won four times in 2012, the last two by knockout. He’s on an 11-year winning streak and can either unify the super bantamweight division or move up to featherweight.

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Although Donaire will have a complete rest from boxing for the next several weeks, backroom work is going on to have him face a number of exciting opponents. First on the list is the reigning WBA champion, Cuba’s Guillermo Rigondeaux. The 5’5”, 32-year old southpaw with a record of 11 wins (eight by KO) is considered one of the greatest amateur fighters of all time, with a record of about 400 fights and 12 defeats. He won the boxing bantamweight gold medal in the 2000 Sydney and 2004 Athens Olympics and turned professional in 2009 after he defected to Miami via Mexico City. Richard Cloutier of ESPN is reported to have quoted Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach as saying that Rigondeaux is probably the greatest talent he has ever seen.

It was reported that Rigondeaux and a teammate had failed to appear in their scheduled bouts in the Pan American Games in Brazil in July 2007 but somehow surfaced and were sent back to Cuba by Brazilian authorities.  The Cuban was supposed to have met Thailand’s Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym (48-2, 33  KOs) in the co-main event of the Donaire-Arce fight but the explosive showdown was cancelled at the last minute for the failure of the latter to pass non-drug related blood tests. The fight was to have been a battle between two outstanding Olympic boxers.

Prior to the aborted fight with the Thai, Rigondeaux and his camp had been itching to lock horns with Nishioka, Jeffrey Mathebula (whom Donaire ran over by decision earlier this year) and another possible Donaire opponent, Mexico’s Abner Mares, also an Olympian. Rigondeaux has been frustrated in his efforts and was reported to have branded all those dodging him as “cowards”.

Mares, 27, ( 24-0-1, 13 KOs) is the WBC champion and is with Oscar de la Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions which could probably be the biggest obstacle to a fight with Donaire who’s with Golden Boy’s arch-rival, Top Rank of Bob Arum. 

 

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