by Kieran Mulvaney
This Saturday marks HBO’s final live boxing broadcast of 2012 (as well as a replay of last week’s breathtaking fourth contest between Juan Manuel Marquez and Manny Pacquiao, and the season finale of The Fight Game with Jim Lampley). The broadcast is headlined by Nonito Donaire closing out a busy year with a defense of his super bantamweight (122-pound) title against Mexico’s Jorge Arce, in what promises to be an all-action affair. Here’s a capsule summary of the two combatants:
Nickname: The Filipino Flash
Record: 30-1 (19 KOs)
Career Highlights: Donaire is an exciting boxer-puncher who exploded on the scene with a stunning knockout of then-undefeated Vic Darchinyan in July 2007. That win garnered him his first world title, at 112 pounds, and he has since won world crowns at 118 and 122 pounds. The stunning second-round shot that disposed of Fernando Montiel last year not only netted him two bantamweight belts, it was universally regarded as the Knockout of the Year.
2012 in Review: Sometimes criticized for interspersing eye-popping performances such as those against Darchinyan and Montiel with periods of relative inactivity, Donaire has this year been one of the busiest boxers in the sport. After clear, if sometimes difficult, points wins over Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. and Jeffrey Mathebula, he stopped highly regarded Japanese fighter Toshiaki Nishioka in October. A win over Arce would likely make Donaire the front-runner for Fighter of the Year honors.
Nickname: El Travieso
Record: 61-6-2 (46 KOs)
Career Highlights: Arce is as well-known for his ring entrances – frequently on top of a horse, with a cowboy hat adorning his head and a lollipop in his mouth – as for his all-action style in the ring. He won his first world title, at 108 pounds, more than 10 years ago, defending it seven times before beginning a rise through the weight classes. Losses to Cristian Mijares, Vic Darchinyan and Simphiwe Nongqayi appeared to have ended his run at the top, but he re-launched himself with a come-from-behind stoppage defeat of Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. in May 2011.
2012 in Review: Like Donaire, Arce has been busy in 2012, but against a lesser level of foes and with sometimes inconclusive results. A five-round stoppage of Lorenzo Parra was followed by a Las Vegas matchup with Jesus Rojas in which Rojas, who had been dropped in round one, landed a rapid fire succession of fouls – headbutt, low blow and shot to the back of the head – that rendered Arce unable to continue and resulted in a no-contest. His most recent outing was a dominant points win over compatriot Mauricio Martinez.