Jhonny Gonzalez had an easy night's work to retain his WBC super featherweight title tonight in Los Mochis, Mexico, routing faded veteran Jorge Arce the entire fight before a mercy stoppage by referee Johnny Callas in round 11.
Arce (64-8-2, 49 KO) was down in the third and ninth rounds, and spit out his mouthpiece a handful of times, to the point that Callas simply grew tired of the act. Arce, 35, looked like a shadow of the shadow of his former self, and frankly, despite his well-earned warrior reputation, he looked like a fighter who didn't really want to fight.
Perhaps it's that Arce is smart enough to know the result of one of Gonzalez's big punches was likely going to be a knockout. The last time we saw Arce in with a top fighter, he was savagely destroyed by Nonito Donaire, in a fight where Arce went according to script, trying to open up on offense and winding up blown away by heavy counter punches he could do nothing about.
With Gonzalez (57-8, 48 KO) being a hard-punching guy with good counter skills himself, maybe Arce figured the writing was on the wall. And as difficult as it is to say about someone who's had the crowd-pleasing, blood-and-guts career of Arce, this looked like a "paycheck fight" for him tonight. He hadn't earned a shot at Gonzalez' title, but it was an easy sell to the public, as he remains rightly popular in Mexico.
But there was just nothing in Arce tonight. He never applied pressure, never even approached an effective offensive game plan, and was dropped pretty hard in rounds three and nine. He still had the fighting spirit, waving Gonzalez in, but Gonzalez never appeared overanxious to do anything more than handily win the fight without taking risks, either. The only chance Arce possibly had was a pure firefight on the inside, and Arce never made it an inside battle. He kept an exceedingly cautious distance from Gonzalez, who was happy to oblige, probably knowing that in any normal, skills-based boxing match, there was nothing that the old, undersized Arce was going to be able to do to beat him.
The stoppage came at 2:43 of the 11th round, when the referee ended the fight instead of penalizing Arce a point or even disqualifying him for continually spitting out the mouthpiece. There was no point to the fight continuing another round, and instead of Arce being shamed with a DQ loss or even having a point taken away for the rather sad penalties, he chose instead to just stop it where it was. Arce was showing no hope of winning the fight or even really trying to win the fight.
Is it the end of Arce? Probably not. Not because he has a lot left to achieve or anything more in the tank, but he'll fight on if he wants to, and he probably does. And he'll get another title shot of some kind not too long from now, maybe in 12-18 months, because he'll rattle off a couple tune-up wins. He still sells tickets, and none of his other bad losses have stopped that. If anything can, though, it's this fight. This isn't like Donaire or Vic Darchinyan, fights where Arce was destroyed, sure, but still looked like a determined, all effort fighter still. This was something new for Arce. The only thing that stops him from getting back to this level, most likely, is his own decision to stop fighting, or if fans no longer believe in him as a fighter. And he gave plenty of reasons tonight.
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In the co-feature, Adrian Estrella stayed undefeated with a 12-round decision win over 38-year-old Celestino Caballero. Estrella (19-0, 17 KO) didn't get the knockout, but he dropped Caballero (37-6, 24 KO) four times, and his power looked perfectly legitimate. Caballero, though, is a tough old SOB, and he stayed in the fight.
Official scores were 115-109, 117-107, and 117-107 for Estrella.