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Jorge Arce, left, felt the right hand of Nonito Donaire in this round as well as the left later on.
Donaire came into the ring to a chorus of deep, spiteful boos from a pro Mexican audience here to support his opponent, the action-oriented Jorge Arce.
And at 33 years old, he's expected to be the underdog against a prime, still-fresh Donaire. Arce has been in this position before. He fought Wilfredo Vázquez, Jr. on the undercard of Pacquiao-Mosley last year.
Then-undefeated Puerto Rican world champ Vázquez was supposed to cruise through Arce on his way to the top, but Arce gave the crowd a bloody war en route to a stoppage victory in Round 12.
The same man Donaire would go on to earn a split decision against was the same man Arce had stopped inside the distance, prompting Donaire to be careful initially.
"Arce is an offensive type of fighter, so we already know what to expect that from him, but he is a dangerous guy," Donaire said after the fight.
Donaire was cautious in the first round, but proved to be the more aggressive fighter, as he jabbed while moving forward and chasing Arce, who appeared intimidated by the speed and size of his opponent.
Donaire sensed this uncharacteristic cautiousness in Arce and eventually launched a left hand that downed Arce in Round 2 after setting it up and watching the Mexican fighter move.
"I got him with the jab and I knew what he was going to do [afterwards]," he said.
Donaire hurt Arce, and in true vintage Arce-form, the warrior wanted to come back and show he was not hurt by the Filipino. Arce began to forgo defense in an attempt to get in close and make it a brawl.
Donaire was able to catch Arce with even more counters and lefts, but was still able to maintain his defense and evasiveness as he continued to dominate the fight.
"I knew that at any moment in any time of the round, every second can make a difference in that round," he said.
In Round 3, Arce was dropped hard twice by the left hook. After the second knockdown in the round, Arce was on his back and clearly no longer about to continue.