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|Jorge Arce, right, was a heavy underdog when he upset Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. in May 2011.|
Jorge Arce owns one of the most fan-friendly styles in recent memory. The always-explosive "Travieso" ("Playful") never fails when it comes to leaving everything in the ring, and his controversial and exuberant personality has made him all the more popular. But rewards for his efforts have been uneven. Great successes have alternated with some isolated failures, although Arce (60-6-2, 46 KOs) has answered each stumble with an unflinching willingness to take on all challenges.
While the debate about whether Arce, 32, is the first Mexican to win titles in four divisions still rages on (one was an interim title), he shrugged off the discussion and set out to win a belt in another new class -- which he did, at bantamweight -- in a career that has seen roughly half a dozen division changes in 16 years. The opponent in front of Arce on the undercard of Saturday's Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley Jr. bout from Las Vegas -- Puerto Rico's Jesus Rojas (18-1-1, 13 KOs) -- isn't the most threatening or high-profile foe of his career, but that hardly matters. We watch Travieso to find out what he'll do next.
In a recent conversation with ESPN Deportes, this is what Arce had to share:
What can you tell us about your training for this fight?
Well, it's been a long and intense camp, and I am ready to win again in Las Vegas. I am ready to steal the show once again. I already did it on the Pacquiao-[Erik] Morales undercard, I did it again on the Pacquiao-[Shane] Mosley undercard, and now I'll do it on the Pacquiao-Bradley card. If the Puerto Rican guy, Jesus Rojas, is well prepared, we're going to steal the show. If he's not, we're all going home early.
So you believe that fighting under Pacquiao brings you good luck, then?
Yes, it is great for me. I feel very motivated to fight on Pacquiao undercards, because I know that everyone watches Manny Pacquiao around the world, and so when I fight on his undercards, I know that everyone will be watching, and I will be able to send a message to people through a knockout or a spectacular fight, and that's why I prepare myself intensely. I believe that on those nights, fighting under Pacquiao, nobody can beat me.
Is there any special aspect in your preparation that facilitates your weight changes? You've fought in a different division in most of your past dozen fights or so.
Well, yes, logically I have increased my muscular mass and I am bigger now. I believe I will be looking for a big fight after this one because I would love to fight either [Nonito] Donaire or Abner Mares, or some of those champions at super bantamweight. And if there are no opportunities there, I believe I would look for a fight at featherweight, to fight against [Orlando] Siri Salido. I would like to climb up to the featherweight division.
You seem to have no limitations jumping up or down in weight. Is that how you view it? Are you willing to make any change necessary to get the right fight?
Yes, I don't have any limitations. To me, the sky is the limit. Take Pacquiao, for example. He has no limits. Pacquiao is coming up all the way from flyweight, and he has beaten people at super welterweight, like Antonio Margarito and other bigger fighters. Why can't I do it, too? I have been trying to demonstrate that I am ready and that I am a great fighter, probably one of the greatest Mexican fighters in history. That's what I am trying to demonstrate, and I am willing to fight anyone anywhere, I don't care. If the purse is good and I am OK with it, let's go.
What do you expect of your opponent, Jesus Rojas? What do you know about him?
I know he is a young fighter. He comes from [Miguel] Cotto's team. He is a talent on the rise. This kid is 25 years old and has fought as a featherweight and super featherweight also, and has won. This tells me he is physically strong. I have been watching a few of his videos, and he has a good style, with a lot of potential. I believe we could steal the show. It could be a great fight, and I'm willing to give it all for the people.
How serious are you about fighting Donaire, and what other opponents do you have in mind for the future?
I would like to face either Donaire or Abner Mares, because Mares is the champion of the Showtime bantamweight tournament, but I would also like to face any one of them at super bantamweight. And if I can't get one of those fights, I would like to go up to the featherweight division to fight Salido, because I believe we could have a great fight. I am ready for the big fights, but we'll see how I feel now in Vegas for this coming fight. I believe that after this fight, I will sit down and talk about who I would like to fight.
You say you have no weight limits, but what about your age? You're a veteran of many tough fights. How much do you have left?
I believe my body will give me warning signs, right? [Wilfredo] Papito Vazquez was 25 when he fought me [in May 2011] -- he was very young -- and even though they thought I was washed up, I gave him a beating. And I knocked him out, which is something that Donaire was unable to do. And so, I believe I have no limits. I feel young in my soul, I feel like a warrior up in the ring. I feel fresh and in my best moment, because I have a lot of experience and I still feel strong.
You've been counted out and considered washed up several times, but you always seem to come back strong. Do you resent those comments? Does it affect you to be underestimated?
I laugh about that, because everyone seems to believe that they know boxing. A lot of people speculate and talk, but I couldn't care less. I am happy with what I do up in the ring. I try to give my best, and when they leave me for dead, that's when I bring on the heat. I enjoy it when people think I am done, because just as they had me a 10-to-1 underdog in the fight against Papito Vazquez, I laughed all the way to the betting window after I won. I enjoy those moments. It's something I was born with, to enjoy the moments of adversity, and then to come back with my rage and my Mexican heart, and laugh at people when their predictions fail. I hope they would always put me a 10- or 15-to-1 [underdog] in all of my fights, so I can beat the casino and strike it rich.
How do you visualize your fight playing out, round by round?
We're going in without a fight plan, taking it step-by-step. I believe I am in great physical condition, enough to fight 12 rounds toe-to-toe. I am ready, I have a lot of experience, and I will walk the ring, trying to seize the opportunity to score a fast KO. And if not, we'll take it round-by-round, winning as always, imposing my aggressive style and hitting the body, with combinations up and down. I want to put on a great fight, and that's what I will try to do.