By Peter Lim
Quintessential professionals, Nonito Donaire, 30-1 (19 KOs), and Jorge Arce, 61-6-2 (46 KOs), refrained from over-hyping the ongoing Mexico-Philippines rivalry prior to their showdown at the Toyota Center in Houston.
Despite being prodded and coaxed by the media to fuel the feud in the wake of Juan Manuel Marquez's perfectly-timed right hand that rendered Manny Pacquaio unconscious, both fighters elected to play down the war at large between their respective nations focus instead on the battle at hand.
"I'm just going to do the best that I can like I always do," Donaire told The Houston Chronicle at the final press conference on Wednesday. "But at the same time, I hope the Philippines can be happy with my performance."
The usually brash and flamboyant Arce was equally diplomatic and down to earth.
"What happened with Pacquiao and Marquez is going to happen again," Arce said. "But I'm not going to pressure myself into doing anything. I know how hard I worked for this fight, I know that I'm ready, and that's all I have to think about. Because of the respect and admiration I have for him, I've prepared like never before."
The truth of the matter is, Arce and Donaire genuinely like and respect each other. The news media would have relished a trash-talking, pushing-and-shoving Jerry Springer episode in the lead-up to the fight but witnessed instead the two combatants warmly embracing and goofing around like 8-year-old buddies who ate too much candy before bedtime.
"We're good friends, we go to fights and see each other, and we even go to dinner together with our wives," Arce said.
Come fight night, though, both men will undoubtedly hurl punches at each other with decapitating intentions. They each didn't become four-division world titleholders by playing nice within the squared circle when it came right down to business.
As exponents of the sweet science, Donaire and Arce - unlike the bloodthirsty media - will probably not lose sight of the fact that boxing is truly a unique phenomena in which violence and savagery rarely stem from nor leads to any enmity. At the end of the day they will still be pals regardless of the outcome.