By Jake Donovan
Normally, a result like the one that occurred last Saturday in Las Vegas would leave an anti-climactic feel to the remainder of the boxing year. From the moment Juan Manuel Marquez saw his final right hand crash down on Manny Pacquiao’s jaw, the initial reaction was how to properly commemorate the event come year-end awards time.
Round of the Year for their two-way action in round five? It’s possible.
Fight and Knockout of the Year? The talks have already suggested runaway favorites.
Fighter of the Year to Marquez?
Not so fast. Knocking out one Filipino superstar doesn’t remove all from the running.
Nonito Donaire hopes to cap what been an incredible 2012 campaign when he faces Jorge Arce in a world 122 lb. championship title defense. The bout takes place Saturday evening at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. HBO will air the bout, marking Donaire’s fourth appearance on the network this year, all of which will have come against consensus Top 10 competition.
If you ask the experts, then an Arce win would perhaps headline another year-end category, Upset of the Year. Read on to see how the Boxingscene.com staff believe the action will unfold and the Fighter of the Year race will turn out.
PREDICTIONS – DONAIRE V. ARCE
“Donaire is Fighter of the Year hands down if he beats Arce. He will have overwhelmingly beat four contenders in one year. His skills are at another level than anyone else's.”
- Damien Acevedo (Donaire // Donaire for Fighter of the Year)
“Arce is always all heart, but this is a terrible matchup of styles for him. His lone shot is a puncher’s chance, which is never much of a chance at all when your opponent boasts a granite chin. Donaire is too good across the board. Donaire by mid-round stoppage to win tonight, and then again in another 2½ weeks when he is declared Fighter of the Year."
– Jake Donovan (Donaire // Donaire for Fighter of the Year)
“Donaire TKO6. I think the Nonito we saw in the Nishioka fight is more indicative of what we will see in the ring than the Mathebula fight. Arce will make it fun while it lasts but he will fall far short of the mark. He is still my Figther Of The Year because while JMM has the more emphatic victory he still has only one good win to hang his hat on. The Fedechenko fight was abysmal and he was arguably losing the Pacquiao fight as well.”
– Ernest Gabion (Donaire // Donaire for Fighter of the Year)
“Nonito Donaire KO5 Jorge Arce. Much has been said about the involvement of Jorge Arce's strength coach, Angel Heredia Hernandez, in this fight. However, compared to Hernandez's other charge Juan Manuel Marquez having previously established stylistic dilemmas against Manny Pacquiao, that is not the case here. I think Donaire lands a counter left hook to floor Arce, finishes 2012 a sparkling 4-0 in a brand new division, and solidifies his claim as Fighter of the Year.”
- Ryan Maquinana (Donaire // Donaire for Fighter of the Year)
“Donaire KO4 Arce. Donaire will continue to make his case for fighter of the year, having spent all of 2012 dominating his new 122 lb. division. Donaire has set himself apart from all top fighters by fighting 4 times year year, and he'll finish the year out with his 4th win and second consecutive knockout. That'll be good enough for runner-up in the Fighter of the Year, because he did not have a game changing victory like JMM did last weekend in his 4th battle with the now slain Pac-Monster. If Donaire gets a match with Abner Mares in 2013, he'll have his opportunity for a game changing victory. If he gets Rigondeuax, too, and beats both of them, then the 2013 FOTY will be his. Unless, of course, someone comes along and upsets Mayweather.”
- Richard Najdowski (Donaire // Marquez for Fighter of the Year)
“Donaire KO Arce: Remember the scene in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom when the villain pulled a beating heart out of a chest. That's about what this fight chalks up to. On paper, this is ritual slaughter. Arce's career has been in a pattern for years. He fights fun fights against B-sides and faded names he managed not to tempt when they were good, gets matched with a live top talent and loses, rinse and repeat. WVII was an anomaly to that equation (and might not qualify as top talent) and a testament to his longevity but here he's smaller, slower, and facing a lethal puncher. If it's competitive, that might be the Upset of the Year. It's the perfect fight to make Donaire look like King Kong and if he's in the sort of zone he was for Wladimir Sidorenko and Fernando Montiel, this could be over anywhere from the first to the sixth. There's a lot of talk that this fight, which would seal a 4-0 campaign for the year, also seals a Fighter of the Year bid for Donaire. I'm not so sure. Marquez's win over Pacquiao was so much larger in magnitude than anything Donaire has done this year, so much more newsworthy, that one shot made override four wins. I view Marquez as the leader in the field right now. Magnitude matters.”
– Cliff Rold (Donaire // Marquez for Fighter of the Year)
"Nonito Donaire TKO 6-8 Jorge Arce. Marquez aside, The Filipino Flash has a Fighter of the Year label written all over him. A win over "El Travieso", which in my mind is almost a done deal, can leapfrog the kid over the great Mexican to a prize, which is rightfully his. In order to do that Donaire should win in mildly emphatic fashion, which means he needs a stoppage or a landslide on the cards. He has an ability to do that: the Pinoy wonder is bigger, faster and younger than Arce, whose numerous recent titles don't fully reflect the decrease in his abilities. The clash will be hot-contested with Arce having his share of success early, but Nonito's skills will frustrate Arce, and his punching power will force a Darchinyan-like stoppage or retirement somewhere after the midpoint."
- Alexey Sukachev (Donaire // Donaire For Fighter of the Year)
Total - Fight: Nonito Donaire 7, Jorge Arce 0
Total – Fighter of the Year Race: Donaire (with a win tonight) 5, Marquez 2
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter: @JakeNDaBox