- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
- 0 Shares
Maybe Jorge Arce will fight Nonito Donaire in the fall and maybe he won't. But whatever the Mexican star decides to do, it no longer will include his possessing a bantamweight belt.
Arce (60-6-2, 46 KOs) has given up his 118-pound title. He had claimed a junior featherweight belt in May 2011 (with a big upset knockout of Wilfredo Vazquez Jr.) and made one defense before giving up the title and dropping down to bantamweight.
In November, Arce rolled past Angky Angkota in a rematch to win a lopsided decision and a vacant title at bantamweight. But Arce never defended it. Instead, he took a pair of junior featherweight bouts and now plans to remain in the division, which is why he vacated the bantamweight title.
Top Rank and Zanfer Promotions, who promote Arce, planned for the fighter to challenge unified titleholder Nonito Donaire in October or November in an HBO main event. But the fight could be sidetracked, according to Cameron Dunkin, Donaire's manager.
"I think [Arce's team is] getting cold feet," Dunkin told me on Monday. "[Top Rank president] Todd [duBoef] said they're hemming and hawing and asking for a lot more money now, and that things are changing. I just don't have a good feeling."
If Arce winds up declining the fight against Donaire -- who moved up from bantamweight to win the 122-pound belt Arce vacated -- there is an alternative plan.
All along, Top Rank, which also promotes Donaire, has also talked about former titlist Toshiaki Nishioka of Japan as a possible opponent. Frankly, although Arce is a much more famous name and more exciting fighter, Nishioka (39-4-3, 24 KOs) probably poses a bigger risk.
Dunkin said Donaire, who unified two junior featherweight belts on July 7 with a decision against Jeffrey Mathebula, is on vacation in his native Philippines and that he'll discuss the situation with the fighter when he returns. Dunkin said he will also be meeting with duBoef to talk about the plan in the coming days.
The Donaire-Arce fight has been talked about on and off for a few years. But as recently as June 8, when Arce fought on the undercard of Timothy Bradley Jr.'s fight with Manny Pacquiao, Dunkin said everything seemed to be fine.
Dunkin manages Bradley and said he talked to Arce at the card at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
"Arce came up to me after the fight he had with [Jesus] Rojas," Dunkin said. "Arce speaks broken English, but you can talk to him, and he said, 'I fight, I fight Nonito.' He said he was definitely fighting him, no problem. He said, 'I fight him, I fight him.' I said, 'Well, let's finally get it done.' Over and over again we've wanted to make this fight, and [the Arce side] says it's the next fight and they never show up."
Top Rank's Carl Moretti said the company remains hopeful of wrapping up the deal.
"We're trying to put it together, but it's not done yet," he said, adding that he is still going over dates with HBO.
Whomever Donaire (29-1, 18 KOs) fights in the fall, you can count on seeing featherweight titlist Orlando Salido (39-11-2, 27 KOs) -- who came through a tuneup fight on Saturday night with ease -- facing Miguel Angel "Mikey" Garcia (28-0, 24 KOs) in the co-feature. That is a terrific matchup.
Dunkin, who manages Garcia, said that fight is in the process of being finalized, which is also what Salido's manager, Sean Gibbons, told me following Salido's tuneup win.
Incidentally, to fill the vacancy left by Arce's relinquishing of the title, the Philippines A.J. Banal (28-1-1, 20 KOs) is slated to meet Pungluang Sor Singyu (42-1, 27 KOs) of Thailand on Oct. 20 in the Philippines.