By Jake Donovan
Yet another reminder that boxing is a global sport comes this weekend, when HBO presents a live doubleheader from the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas.
All of the televised action takes place in the 122 lb. division, but consists of four fighters from four separate nations around the world. It’s boxing the way it once was and the way it ought to be, if you ask the event’s handlers.
“Years ago, there was a big program on ABC called ‘Wide World Of Sports’,” recalled Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum, in his opening remarks during Wednesday’s press conference in Houston. “It showed that people all over the world participated in sports.
“What we’re seeing here on this card is participation from all over the globe.”
The main event pits reigning 122 lb. king Nonito Donaire – from California by way of the Philippines – against a potential future Hall of Fame fighter, Mexico’s own Jorge Arce. In the co-feature, Guillermo Rigondeaux – born and raised in Cuba, but now representing Miami, FL – puts his unbeaten record and alphabet title on the line against former champ Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym of Thailand.
Both bouts air on HBO (Saturday, 9:30PM ET), with the live action preceded by an exclusive replay of Juan Manuel Marquez’ knockout win over Manny Pacquiao in their epic fourth clash last weekend.
“Think about it,” Arum challenged the assembled media on hand. “You have a reigning champion and two-time Olympic Gold medalist from Santiago, Cuba (Rigondeaux). He is facing a former champion from Thailand (Kratingdaenggym).
“In the main event, a former champion from Mexico (Arce) faces off against the current champion (Donaire) who comes from General Santos City in the Philippines and now lives in San Leandro, California. This is absolutely an event that spans the globe.”
All four fighters on the telecast are fighting for the fourth time each this year. Of the four, Donaire (31-1, 19KO) is the only one to have his entire 2012 campaign air exclusively on HBO.
Rigondeaux (11-0, 8KO) appeared on Showtime’s Shobox series to begin the year, winning his belt from Rico Ramos on the telecast. He also appeared on the undercard of a June pay-per-view Pacquiao’s controversial points loss to Tim Bradley.
Arce (61-6-2, 46KO) was also on the card, though his airtime was brief as his bout with Jesus Rojas was cut short after two rounds due to a foul that left the Mexican legend unable to continue.
Saturday will mark the first glimpse of US coverage for Kratingdaenggym (48-2, 33KO), who has never before fought in the states. Only four of his previous 50 contests have taken place outside of his native Thailand, including a 2009 title winning effort over Bernard Dunne on the road in Ireland.
The worldwide representation on hand was never more evident than when the fighters took turns behind the microphone to speak to the crowd. Translators were on hand for Kratingdaenggym, Rigondeaux and Arce, while Donaire spoke in English and concluded in Tagalog upon demand from his Hall of Fame promoter.
“This is great, I bring the fighters up here to talk and neither one of them can understand each other,” Arum quipped in between introductions and comments for Kratingdaenggym and Rigondeaux.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter: @JakeNDaBox