Nonito Donaire: Again, Right, Now!
After Pacquiao’s defeat in Las Vegas, a big win this weekend for Nonito Donaire has the possibility of launching his career into a whole new stratosphere…
Toronto, Canada—“Fight Night!”
Manny is laying face first on the canvas. He is in “no-man’s land.” In his brain little electrical impulses and brain cells are bounding about like a lottery ball game, disjunctive, trying to find their reconnect. Some of those cells are leaving him, gone, like the mystery of pixie dust, never to return as the brain suffers lack of oxygen. In a matter of microseconds Manny had put himself way out of position, way too far over to his left, compounded at that very moment by losing his balance by stubbing his toe on an already firmly planted Grand Champion Marquez’s left foot, his right knee slightly buckled and falling forward off-balance just before the blow. A scary moment indeed as he lay on the canvas for some two minutes motionless. And here we go again, right, now! Mexico vs. the Philippines, Donaire vs. Arce.
Make no mistake about that Marquez blow and how it set up. Grand Champion Marquez and his Hall of Fame trainer Nacho had made adjustments. The usual straight right hand down the middle was looping way out wide around Manny’s hands high box-like defense. As Marquez landed his set up knockout blow eight young Software IT guys in their late 20s jumped out of their chairs yelling. Carlos “Cutman” Varela Jr., in boxing long enough, sat quietly, nodding. My Pinoy friend, writer, photographer, and general boxing man, Robert Cruz sat quietly as well, with a poker face that would have fooled legendary card phenom Stu Ungar, but for the telltale eyes. Cruz’s eyes, the look of concern and disappointment upon them. Me, I went out on the balcony of this high rise fancy condo, leaving our host and friends to enjoy their yelling moment, leaving Cruz to his own thoughts, and took a short clear view across the Toronto skyline and the CN Tower. Directly below me a cemetery; long way up and a long way down. And what does Top Rank do? What could be better than coming back one week later, again, right now with another nationalistic boxing fever of a bout, Filipino vs. Mexican, Donaire vs. Arce. For Donaire, the timing could not be better and that is not Top Rank luck, but as usual, by timed perfect planned design. For Donaire a big win this weekend has the possibility of launching his career into a whole new stratosphere given the result of this past weekend’s big fight.
What 30-year-old Nonito “The Filipino Flash” Donaire will find in five-time World Champion 33-year-old Jorge Arce will be of no surprise. Donaire is going to have ample opportunity to open up as Arce will thunder aggressively forward, throwing, smothering, and making himself available to be hit. Donaire has wanted this fight now for some time and should be his usual bundle of energy. When last I had the opportunity to meet him, after he had quietly entered the gallery for the weigh-in for Khan vs. Judah last year (see “Nonito Donaire: The Total Package”), Donaire said, “Oh man, that would be a great fight, and that’s one we would love to make.” When I mentioned that everybody was hungry to take what he had, Donaire smiled with a cat like gleam to his eye. “That’s it man, everybody is hungry. Everybody is going to bring it.” There will be no denying what Arce is going to bring. After compiling a 60-6-2 record with 46 knockouts he knows exactly how to prepare for this type of war. Donaire in turn will be fully prepared, mentally and physically, to do battle. What of course is of concern is Arce’s age and ring wear. It is a long time back that he was battling the likes of Michael Carbajal. It is that wear and tear along with his easy to hit style that has many wrongfully treating this fight as a write-off.
Hall of Famer Al Bernstein perhaps echoes the thoughts of many. In a weblog segment entitled “Things I can live without,” Bernstein was emphatic on what he thought of this bout: “I really don’t care to see that (Donaire vs. Arce) fight. I think it is a waste of time for both men and a waste of time period for boxing fans. Nonito Donaire is so much better than Jorge Arce…another making time fight for him…Jorge Arce, to put it bluntly, has absolutely no chance to win this fight…this fight is a total and complete mismatch…I just don’t think this is a very interesting fight.” Perhaps, but this is boxing, and as we saw last weekend, tides and fortunes can turn in a hurry.
Many voiced the same concerns as Al when Arce fought young, undefeated, power punching Wilfredo Vasquez Jr. Arce chewed through Vasquez in a fashion that was truly inspiring. In the same breath Donaire had his late round problems with the same opponent and while, yes, styles make fights, Donaire showed some kinks in the fighting style armor.“The Filipino Flash” has problems setting his feet and staying in the pocket to trade, body shot to body shot. He is much more comfortable moving in and out, using his superb foot and hand speed to set opponents up for power shots. This inside fighting item of course happens to be Arce’s boxing dinner dessert area. Adjustments will have to be made, as Donaire did in his last fight, in high boxing IQ,to win. The real question is whether Arce can get in without Donaire applying lights out power as he did with Montiel or whether Arce can avoid being chewed up via round after round barrage, and work hard to Donaire’s body to wear him down for a late round surge. There is no mystery to this fight. Arce cannot win, at all, from the outside and will have to come forward, in furious fashion, AND THAT’S WHAT MAKES THIS FIGHT VERY INTERESTING. IT MAY GO ONE OR IT MAY GO LATE BUT IT WILL BE FUN TO WATCH.
Fight night is over and I am walking up an empty Yonge Street, Toronto, by myself, towards fat cat central, Upper Canada College area at 12:45 am here in Toronto. My mind is still on Manny and the great Marquez win. The same young lad that was here earlier in the day when I took our Coyote/Shepherd dog Bronson out for a walk is sitting on the sidewalk at the side of a convenience store with his guitar singing quietly,” Got on my dead man’s suit and my smiling skull ring, my lucky graveyard boots and a song to sing. I got a song to sing it keeps me out of the cold, and I’ll meet you further on up the road.” I take a quick look around, pull out my wallet and drop a fiver into the lad’s open guitar case. “Hey, thanks Mister. That’s pretty nice. What’s up?” I respond in kind, “Well lad, it’s a long way up and a long way down and that little J. Cash song is pure grit reminds me of my favorite sport. Pure grit. You know The Boss did a version of it as well, eh, and besides I don’t think 50 cent is gonna cut it for ya.” In turn he asks “Hey that was you with that dog that went by this afternoon, scary-good looking guy, what kind is he?” Wellll… “That was no dog kid. He is a mix, some dog in him, but no dog…” I walk away with a little smile. Arce is no dog in this fight. No dog at all and he will bring more than a little mix. He may go out on his shield but he will go out, like a pistolero, both guns firing, not on the fast draw, as he once was, but firing nonetheless, and when it comes to Mexicans (see “Mexicans: It’s in the Blood”), whether by design, or by sheer will power and firepower, coupled with years of technique and in-ring fight work, sometimes a bullet by design, or stray bullet, gets through, and that’s boxing!