HOUSTON, Texas—They’re good friends, but for one hour on Saturday (Sunday in Manila) Nonito “Filipino Flash” Donaire Jr. and Mexican Jorge Arce will be bitter enemies, trying to knock each other out with every punch in their arsenal.
It will be bloody, it will be war, when Donaire defends his WBO super bantamweight crown against Arce, a certified brawler who never surrenders, at Toyota Center here.
The combatants agree there will only be one man standing in the end.
And Donaire believes he has the tools and the skills to come up on top of their duel scheduled for 12 rounds.
The 30-year-old Donaire, riding an 11-year, 29-bout winning streak for a 30-1 record is deemed the better fighter and stronger puncher than Arce, who is a veteran of 70 fights at 33.
“I think it (knockout) will happen. I can see it,” Donaire told Manila-based sportswriters at the lobby of Hyatt Regency on the eve of the fight card. “When I see it, I’ll get it. It’s about setting up and being smart.”
KO of the Year
Donaire should know, he’d conjured two one-punch knockouts at the expense of the touted Vic Darchinyan in 2007 and Fernando Montiel in 2011, both hailed as Knockouts of the Year.
Owing to Arce’s aggression, Donaire believes there’s also a good chance for a quick stoppage.
For his part, Arce is banking on his experience and the inspiration provided by countryman Juan Manuel Marquez’s shocking one-punch knockout of Manny Pacquiao last Saturday at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
A four-division champion, Arce, 61-6-2-1 ND (No Decision) with 46 knockouts, said Friday he’s going to be the new surprise, hinting that he intends to replicate Marquez’s feat with the revered Mexican trainer Ignacio “Nacho” Beristain working his corner.
“Nacho’s gonna be in his corner, I think so,” said Donaire, himself a three-division world champion. “And Marquez is coming in too, to support him. We’ll see. I don’t really care, it all comes down to me and Arce being inside the ring.
“We’re very good friends, come to that fight you will see how much grudge we have for each other. We’re supposed to fight in 2008, when we’re still flyweights. We have a grudge inside the ring, but outside of it, we have respect for each other.”
“Whatever happens in that ring, stays in that ring. As a fighter we just kind of leave it out there.”
Arce concurred, saying that he and his wife and Donaire and his wife (Rachel) have went out together several times.
For now, however, this close relationship is forgotten.
“I’m ready to go. I wish the fight is just right now,” said Donaire. “I’m super excited, maybe because this whole year I’ve been in the gym. I’ve been training, I’ve been fighting.”
On Feb. 4, Donaire bested former world champion Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. to clinch the vacant WBO 122-pound title. Donaire unified the title on July 7 by dominating IBF counterpart Jeffrey Mathebula then sent WBC super bantamweight champion Toshiaki Noishioka into retirement when he stopped the Japanese in the ninth round on Oct. 16.
According to Donaire, he’s prepared for whatever intensity Arce will bring in to the ring to give a little joy to distraught Filipinos devastated by Pacquiao’s loss and the havoc wreaked by Typhoon Pablo.
“Nothing to worry because I’m ready for everything,” said Donaire, who’ll be receiving a seven-figure pay for the first time. “Because if you start to worry about things, then you have to put it in your head and you have to look for that. He has to worry about what I do.”
“It comes down to the beginning. All of that energy, all of that push from the (Marquez) victory will help him in the beginning. But once he sees that I am brave, durable and punches strong, and that I’m a difficult opponent, everything will disappear.
Noting that Arce is a “bleeder,” Donaire said he’ll pounce on the Mexican’s face from the opening bell.
“All it needs is a jab for him to get bloody, and when he does reality will sink in.
Donaire, ranked No. 6 in the world’s pound-for-pound list, found an apt comparison.
“It’s like a sugar rush. It will skyrocket, but will drop down very hard.”