Without a doubt he’s the biggest boxing star in Mexico. WBC Flyweight champion Jorge “Travieso” Arce has traveled far in the sport and has made quite an impact in the lives and minds of many Mexicans. A quick poll in my classroom made up of mostly immigrants from Mexico reaffirms my claim. While one hundred percent of all participants claim knowledge of Arce, only about forty percent know the name Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales. Arce was part of the Mexican version of the television show “Big Brother” which was incredibly successful. He also had a stint on another popular show titled “Bailando por un sueno” which raised his profile even higher and turned him into a Mexican crossover star. “That show made me very popular. I’m popular in Mexico because of those things but I want to be popular because of my boxing also. A lot of people know me and ask for autographs but they don’t even know I’m a fighter. I want to change that,” he said.

He’ll get a chance on Saturday, September 23rd as Arce (44-3-1, 34 KOs) of Los Mochis, Mexico takes on Masibulele Makepula (28-3, 18 KOs) of East London, South Africa in a WBC Super Flyweight elimination bout at the Dodge Arena in Hidalgo, Texas. HBO will televise.

Arce has come a long way since his loss to Hall of Famer Michael Carbajal in 1999. Carbajal, who was thought to be on his way out, pulled off a huge upset over the then 20-year old prospect and won the WBO Jr. Flyweight title in a spectacular, one punch, come from behind win. “I was just a baby back then and he was a great champion. I might have lost the fight with one punch, but I sure gave him a beating for 10 rounds. It was a great fight and an even greater learning experience,” said Arce. Since then, Arce has reeled off twenty-four wins and won the WBC and WBO Jr. Flyweight titles. He now holds the WBC Flyweight belt which he won over very credible competition against Angel Priolo and Hussein Hussein who he knocked out twice. “I was just too strong and focused for him. I was feeling perfect and there was no way he would’ve won that bout unless he brought a bat into the ring,” said Arce.

With Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales in the twilight of their careers, Arce feels he’s a suitable replacement for them in the hearts of boxing fans around the world. “Barrera and El Terrible are great but their careers are almost over. Somebody has to fill that void. Why not me?” asked Arce.

Arce’s personality is brash and boisterous. The 27-year-old has a gift of gab and an energy that makes for great television and interviews. He usually walks into the ring with a lollipop and wears a cowboy hat. “That’s the way I relax before a fight. I have a lollipop and I’m having fun. Once that lollipop’s out then it’s time to go to war.” Arce never disappoints. He fights with relentless passion that few fighters exhibit. Suffering from a serious cut in a thriller against Hussein Hussein on one of Bob Arum’s Pay Per Views, Arce begged the referee not to stop the fight. “I would’ve been devastated if they stopped it on me and I would never allow my corner to stop a fight,” he says. A bloodied Arce ultimately stopped Hussein in the tenth round when the Australian’s corner waved the white flag. It was a genuine war that complimented the Erik Morales-Manny Pacquiao main event.

Arce’s jump to the Super-Flyweight division wasn’t much of a surprise to boxing insiders who’ve heard rumors about Arce’s difficulty in making the flyweight limit. Tales were heard of Arce cramping up from straining himself to make the weight. “That’s true. It was always a very tough experience trying to make weight. I’m older now and my body’s grown to a point where I just could not make the 112 pound limit. Three pounds doesn’t seem like much of a difference but when you fight at our weight even losing a pound can cause you all sorts of problems.”

His Top Rank Promotions stable-mate, lightweight great Jose Luis Castillo, was a prime example of what happens when you can’t make weight. “It was an unfortunate incident. Jose Luis is a friend of mine and I felt bad for him but it’s hard to lose all that weight quickly. You have to be realistic and fight at a weight where you feel comfortable,” said Arce of Castillo’s debacle on the scale before his third scheduled fight against Diego Corrales. The fight never took place since Castillo couldn’t come close to making weight after several tries. The result was that the fight was cancelled and the loss of revenue was staggering. Castillo was fined and placed on suspension by the Nevada State Athletic Commission.

Arce has now set his eyes on the WBC Super Flyweight crown held by Masamori Tokuyama. “He better enjoy that belt since he won’t have it much longer. It’s the fight that I ultimately want. It would give me a third title and put me in the history books as one of few champions to win world titles in three different divisions,” he said. Although he feels comfortable at this weight, he doesn’t count out moving up another division at least once before he finishes his career. “Sure, why not. After I win the Super-Flyweight title I’d like to take a shot at the Bantamweight division. Winning four world titles in different divisions would be historic.  It would make me famous for what I really want to be famous for. I love being on T.V. shows, but boxing is what I do. I want to make a huge impact and if that means having to take on the bigger guys and taking their titles then so be it.”

Jorge Arce vs. Masibulele Makepula will presented on HBO’s Boxing After Dark at 10:00 P.M. Eastern and Pacific coast time. It will be presented in Spanish on HBO Latino.