By Jake Donovan
The stakes couldn’t be any higher for Saturday’s HBO-televised doubleheader at the Toyota Center in Houston. Yet, you wouldn’t know it by watching the demeanor of the four fighters to be showcased.
In the main event, Nonito Donaire (31-1, 19KO) looks to cap what many believe to be a Fighter of the Year worthy campaign as he faces former four-division champ Jorge Arce (61-6-2, 46KO. The friendship between the two has been well chronicled in recent weeks, complete with the fighters constantly joking around and acting silly while in each other’s presence.
Those warm and fuzzy feelings spilled over into Wednesday’s press conference in Houston, infectious enough to have the supporting cast join in on the fun.
The televised co-feature pits Guillermo Rigondeaux (11-0, 8KO) in an alphabet title defense against former two-division titlist Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym of Thailand. Neither fighter speaks English – at least not publicly – but the press session proved that fun time is a universal language.
All four fighters were brief in their turns at the podium, with nary a hint of trash talk to be found.
“I’m conflicted with my sentiments for this fight,” admitted Arce, who took turns playfully planting a right hand on the chin of each of the other three combatants on this weekend’s telecast. “I’m excited because it will be the best fight of my life. I don’t want to say anything about who will win. I’m not going to make any predictions for this fight, just a promise that it will be a great fight.”
Donaire was his usual jovial self when summoned to the microphone.
“I didn’t realize it could get so cold here in Houston,” commented Donaire, a resident of San Leandro, California by way of the Philippines. “But one thing I can guarantee you is that on December 15, this Saturday it will be hot in here at the Toyota Center.”
Rigondeaux and Kratingdaenggym both spoke through translators, to which promoter Bob Arum quipped, “This is great, I bring the fighters up here to talk and neither one of them can understand each other.”
Once it was time to pose for the cameras, all four fighters were ready to steal the spotlight. As Arce launched faux right hands, Rigondeaux grinned while offering a light-hearted flurry of body shots. Donaire joined in on the fun as well. Kratingdaenggym simply smiled in the direction of his 122 lb. peers, while confidently winking to onlookers in the crowd.
Not to be outdone, a portion of the spotlight was commanded by a local fighter who will appear on the non-televised undercard.
“This is absolutely an event that spans the globe. But there is also a fighter from the Houston area who will fight on the undercard,” noted Arum. “In the future, he will represent the United States in events of this kind.”
Arum then proceeded to reveal the fighter as Tremaine Williams, a former amateur standout who made his pro debut earlier this year. His record currently stands at 4-0 (2KO) as he prepares for a scheduled four-round 122 lb. showdown against fellow Texan, 32-year old Rafael Casias.
Williams has a long way to go before getting a good glimpse at the title picture, but that hardly deterred him from placing a future reservation. The 20-year old briefly introduced himself before turning his attention to the four fighters on stage.
“Nonito Donaire, I want to let you know that I’m coming for you,” Williams said as he shook the champ’s hand before repeating the claim to Arce, Rigondeaux and Kratingdaenggym. “Remember my name, Tremaine Williams, the Mighty Midget.”
The comments were taken in jest, but also impressed Donaire.
“Yeah, I like that,” stated the reigning 122 lb. king. “That’s what I like to hear.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter: @JakeNDaBox