by Nat Gottlieb
If Nonito Donaire can beat Jorge Arce in impressive fashion on Dec. 15, “The Filipino Flash” could thrust himself into the frontrunner’s role for Fighter of the Year honors. But Arce, the Mexican warrior who has been known to ride to the ring on a horse, has said several times that this will be his last year in boxing, and dollars to pesos says there’s no way Arce wants to ride off into the sunset slumped over a saddle.
In an era when the top boxers in the sport fight just one or two times a year, Donaire will be making his fourth title defense of 2012. That alone should put him in the mix for the year's top fighter. Of those in front of Donaire on the mythical pound-for-pound ladder, Floyd Mayweather has fought only once, Manny Pacquiao twice, Andre Ward once, and Sergio Martinez twice. “If he beats Arce, he will have successfully defended his title four times,” says Donaire’s manager, Cameron Dunkin, who has overseen the destinies of more than 20 world champions. “That should mean something.”
Arce, however, represents a dangerous roadblock. In the twilight of his career, the beloved Mexican brawler has experienced a rejuvenation of sorts, having beaten nine straight opponents, including previously unbeaten champion Wilfredo Vasquez Jr. last year. “Arce is a tough bastard, and he’s going to fight his ass off against Nonito,” Dunkin says.