Commentary

Arce in must-win situation

Jorge Arce knows that the only way to revive a sagging career is to earn a clear-cut victory over Vic Darchinyan, writes David Faitelson.

Originally Published: February 7, 2009
By David Faitelson | Special to ESPN.com

Jorge "El Travieso" Arce knows full well that fights like Saturday's brawl against Australian Vic Darchinyan don't come very often.

"This is one of those nights," Arce told ESPN Deportes in Spanish. "I know it, I know it. If I don't win it's gonna be more difficult [to come back and secure his legacy]."

After years of up-and-down, inconsistent performances, fight fans might have the wrong impression of what Arce is really made of.

Nearing 30 and with more than 10 years of experience in the ring, Arce isn't the most technical fighter. He doesn't have the best jab or the fastest feet, but he does know how to get the most out of what he has. Add to that the notoriety that comes with running your mouth and exciting a crowd, and Arce can be considered one of the more cerebral fighters boxing has seen in recent times.

In the midst of the post-Chavez era -- Julio Cesar Chavez, not Hugo -- fans needed a fighter who could stand in the spotlight (in the ring or otherwise) without flinching. Arce did just that by signing up to be part of a top Mexican reality show, "Big Brother," and endearing himself to mainstream fans.

This is one of those nights, my friend … I know it, I know it. If I don't win it is gonna be more difficult.

--Jorge Arce on his upcoming fight against Vic Darchinyan

Arce is also responsible, along with manager Fernando Beltran, for bringing boxing back to the "big leagues" of Mexican sporting events. Arce's larger-than-life entrances and take-no-prisoners fighting style has created a new generation of boxing fans and even inspired some to lace up the gloves and take to the ring in hopes of emulating their idol.

Still, it's the fight with Darchinyan that will secure Arce's legacy not only as a great showman but also as a great fighter.

"People know that I give 100 percent, and that's my best offer," said Arce. "With me, the show is guaranteed. With me, you can count on the thrills being there."

Night after night, during a career that already includes a pair of world titles and many valuable victories against important names in the smaller divisions, Arce has demonstrated that he is pure courage, passion and spectacle. The question on Saturday is whether that will suffice in order to reclaim the super flyweight title.

"He can punch and so can I," said Arce. "We'll see who's the hardest puncher of the two."

Arce was shown a video of Darchinyan's last fight as a clear example of what he's capable of doing. A very impressive KO victory against Mexico's Christian Mijares earned Darchinyan a slew of title belts in the 118-pound division.

Darchinyan boasts an impressive 25 knockouts in 31 victories against only one defeat (at the hands of Philippine titleholder Nonito Donaire) and a career that is, according to the experts, open to even greater things in the future.

Arce knows a loss means a long road back. It's a road he's been down before and one he'd rather not go down again.

In 1999, Arce was knocked out at the Plaza de Toros of Tijuana in Round 11 by Michael Carbajal. In 2007, Arce was battered from pillar to post for 12 rounds by countryman Mijares. Arce is still picking up the pieces from that loss, but a win over Darchinyan will go a long way to restoring faith in the fighter's ability.

For all his skill and conditioning and fighting ability, if things get rough on Saturday, you can count on Arce to fall back on his tremendous heart and warrior spirit. And that's all his fans ever asked for anyway.

David Faitelson hosts Viernes de Combates on ESPN Deportes and is a contributor to ESPNdeportes.com.