Looking Ahead to Saturday: Donaire vs. Arce and Rigondeaux vs. Kratingdaenggym Previews
On Saturday from Houston, pound-for-pound entrant Nonito Donaire looks to cap off a productive 2012 with a win over longtime standout Jorge Arce. In the main supporting bout, fellow-122-pound titlist Guillermo Rigondeaux takes on former WBA champion–Thailand’s Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym.
Perhaps this is to set up a Donaire-Rigondeaux unification fight for 2013. They’re clearly the number 1 and 2 junior featherweights in the world. It makes sense. Rigondeaux is ready to take on a top fighter, while Donaire will be looking for something significant to add to his 122-pound title run.
Work still lies ahead, though. Donaire and Rigondeaux are each heavy favorites, but face the type of opponents who could surprise, especially in the event that either favorite is caught looking ahead.
Nonito Donaire vs. Jorge Arce
Donaire is one of the best fighters in the sport. Arce, to his credit, has hung on well, but is past his prime. A lot of us thought Arce hit a wall several years ago, but the little warrior keeps dusting himself off and scoring improbable wins.
Arce is a dogged veteran warrior who is probably older than his listed age of 33. The guy is so old that he lost to Michael Carbajal for crying out loud!
Still, he is on an unbeaten run of 11 straight fights going back over 3 years. A come-from-behind knockout over Wilfredo Vazquez, Jr., whom Donaire beat by decision, is his best win during that run. Donaire has also been active and looks for his fourth 122-pound title fight win of 2012.
Donaire will be longer than the stubby Arce, who will obviously be looking to get inside. The Filipino Flash, now 30, also has a punching power advantage, despite Arce’s 46 career knockouts. Arce has seen his skin start betraying him more and more recently, making one wonder how his face will hold up against the crisp punching of Donaire.
If Donaire arrives to the ring in a diminished mental state, Arce is a guy who can spoil–even at this advanced stage in his career. He can hit even at this weight and is sometimes capable of fighting a bit over his head. I just have a hard time imagining Arce giving Donaire any real kind of problems. I say after 7 rounds, Arce gets the hook.
Prediction: Nonito Donaire by 7th-round TKO
Guillermo Rigondeaux vs. Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym
This fight definitely breaks the HBO record for the most combined characters in both fighter’s names. Guillermo Rigondeaux vs. Poonsawat Kratingdaengym? Holy moly. I don’t envy any reporters trying to write real-time reports on Saturday. By the time you’re finished writing Kratingdaenggym, the round’s over.
Name notwithstanding, the Thai ex-champ has a lot of credentials. His best wins include names like unbeaten Ricardo Cordoba, Leo Gamez, ex-WBA champ Somsak, and Bernard Dunne–whom he beat in Ireland, showing he can travel. Kratingdaenggym had about a one-year run as WBA champ from 2009-1010, losing his strap to Ryol Li Lee. Seven straight wins put him in position for this spot. The 32-year old is an impressive 48-2 (33 KOs) and has never been stopped in an 11-year career.
He faces unbeaten Guillermo Rigondeaux–a highly-regarded world champion and former two-time Olympic Gold Medal winner. Despite only 11 pro fights, he has already had several fights of world title fight experience. Rigondeaux is already 32, but seems to have acclimated well to the pro ranks–knocking out 3 of his last 4 opponents.
It seems like whenever a notable Thai makes his way stateside, they never send the best guys. I can’t even remember a Thai coming over here and winning a big fight. Ever. I could be wrong, but no one comes to mind. Now Kratingdaenggym is gonna try to give it a go, against a top talent in the Cuban — and in Texas to boot, where the “house” fighter has been known to catch a couple breaks.
I look for a capable effort from the Thai ex-champ, but Rigondeaux’s time is now. There is a good chance Rigondeaux will represent a giant class jump for Kratingdaenggym, who has not really seen anything like this. It’s going to be too much for the Thai, who will be shown the exit before the tenth round.
Prediction: Guillermo Rigondeaux by 9th-round TKO.