Back on September 15, 2009, Jorge Arce faced an unknown South African fighter named Simphiwe Nongqayi in Mexico, on Mexican Independence weekend, in front of thousands of fans in Cancun. Arce, one of the most popular, respected, and admired of the recent Mexican stars, had looked close to on his last legs then, and Nongqayi seemed to seal the deal, dominating a 12-round fight and winning the fight by decision.
Here's what I said in the recap of that fight:
I'm not saying I think he will quit now, but I do believe Jorge Arce probably should so long as he's got his finances in order. Prior to this fight, he'd badly lost his last two bouts against top-level foes (Darchinyan and Cristian Mijares). He reeled off five straight wins between those two losses, but one was highly questionable (Devid Lookmahanak) and the other four were against guys that just weren't on his level.
His last two fights can't even really be called exciting, which was always his calling card. No, he was never a great talent, but he had a truckload of heart and was never afraid to get hit if that's what he had to do. Both Darchinyan and Nongqayi just embarrassed him and won the bouts going away.
I stand by all of that. At the time, Arce looked finished.
Since then, Jorge has gone 6-0-1, and in May of this year, stole the show on the Pacquiao vs Mosley card with his riveting stoppage victory over extremely heavily favored Wilfredo Vazquez Jr, picking up a title at 122 pounds. No one really thought Arce could do it, but he did.
Last night in Mexicali, Arce faced Nongqayi again, just over two years since losing to him in Cancun. I'm going to do this in the style of an After the Fact recap, since I'm watching it for the first time here, but it did just happen hours ago.
Arce getting thumped with jabs because he's Arce and he doesn't defend himself. Arce again lunging from long range, not connecting early, but keeping safe distance. Right to the body by Nongqayi. Tense fight for just over two minutes, and then, out of nowhere, Arce gets to him with a left to the body and a stiff right upstairs, then what appears to be more a glancing blow than anything on a left uppercut, sending Nongqayi to the ropes and down. Arce, once his opponent is back up, charges with great fury and looks to put Nongqayi away. But Simphiwe backtracks pretty nicely and survives the round against the charging bull. Arce 10-8
Pressing again to start the round, Arce's glove touches the mat and it's hard to tell if he was clipped by a right hand or just off balance. Referee Rafael Ramos calls it a slip. Arce pushes him back again, and looks so strong at the new weight. Nongqayi looks like he's at least a weight class below Arce, whose body has filled out really nicely at 122 pounds. He's short, but he's very sturdy and just looks rejuvenated without cutting so much weight. Arce fighting like a man possessed -- wild, unhinged. There's very little in the way of technique, even for Arce. Arce 10-9, Arce 20-17
Nongqayi just having such a hard time dealing with Arce's aggression, but then their heads come together halfway into the round and Arce is cut. I know, you need a moment to recover from this shocking news. OK, take a breather.
Arce goes back to swinging his arms wildly at Nongqayi, who tries to fight back. But you can kind of read Nongqayi's body language here -- he's been in the ring with this guy before, but this isn't the same guy. Nongqayi gets a break when his mouthpiece falls out. Arce 10-9, Arce 30-26
Arce comes out, bloodied, like a bat out of hell, and the heads come together again. Arce complains to the referee, but then gets right back into it. Arce just will not stop moving his hands. But then Nongqayi starts landing good shots, backing Arce to the ropes, and once again the heads clash. Nongqayi loses a point, and Arce's blood starts to really flow. After the doctor takes a look, Arce loses his goddamn mind, just firing away with power shots like he's gone demented. He calms down after a moment and goes back to bouncing around, looking for big shots. Nongqayi lands two good shots, Arce doesn't budget. Arce keeps coming, pouring on pressure. He eats another right hand, and I mean just eats it, while raining down blows on Nongqayi, who cannot hold him off any longer -- in the corner, Nongqayi slumps over, covers up, and Ramos stops the fight. Jorge Arce TKO-4
Arce is a flawed fighter. I know, you need another moment to process this.
The 32-year-old Mexican warrior has found a new home at 122 pounds, and he just looks -- well, he looks like Jorge Arce again. Not an absolute peak version of Arce, but not too far off, which is astounding. Two years ago when he fought Nongqayi, he looked finished. This wasn't Cristian Mijares or Vic Darchinyan, this was some guy from South Africa nobody knew anything about, and he whomped Arce.
This time out, it was a physical mismatch. Nongqayi looked in good shape and seemed ready to fight, but Arce simply had far too much energy and firepower to let him hang in here. It was mostly one-way action, and the shots that Nongqayi did land, even the good ones, were just walked right through. The only thing that bothered Arce was the heads clashing repeatedly. Other than that, he didn't look like he felt a thing in this fight. He was determined to avenge a defeat, and he did so.
Arce (58-6-2, 45 KO) is closing in on 60 career wins, and even if he never has another great night, he'll get there and then some. He'll do it because he loves to fight, and as somewhat sad as it is to think about at a moment where Arce's praises are being sung for the whole world to hear, he'll do it because he'll fight long, long after he truly is finished in the ring. He's that kind of fighter.