ANAHEIM—Mexico’s Jorge Arce mugged, kissed and slugged his way to victory over Argentina’s Julio Roque Ler and middleweight Kelly Pavlik nailed down his claim as a true middleweight threat on Saturday.

Before 7,091 rabid fight fans Arce pummeled the defensive-minded Ler (23-2, 14 KOs) at the Honda Center in his quest to fight for the junior bantamweight world championship. Though gunning for a knockout, Arce had to settle for a one-sided beating in the 12-round nontitle fight.

“He didn’t come to fight, he came to say he went the distance with Jorge Arce,” said Arce (46-3-1, 35 KOs) who won by unanimous decision 117-109, 117-110 twice. “He didn’t present a fight at all.”

Arce had to settle for mugging and arguing with Ler. Both fighters motioned to the other to fight. But it was Arce firing the punches as Ler stayed in a defensive pocket throughout the 12-round contest.

At one point in the seventh round, Arce planted a kiss on Ler’s neck to prove the Argentine was reluctant to fight. He repeated the romantic gesture a few rounds later.

“The only time I let him attack he almost got knocked out,” said Arce.

Fernando Beltran, who manages Arce, said they seek a junior bantamweight world title elimination match against Martin Castillo or flyweight titleholder Vic Darchinyan.

“We’ll fight anyone,” Arce said.

In the battle for the NABF middleweight title Pavlik (30-0, 27 KOs) proved he’s a step above the rest with a one-sided beating of Mexico’s ultra tough Jose Luis Zertuche (19-4-2, 14 KOs). A sizzling right hand knocked out the Mexican on his feet at 1:40 of the eighth round.

“He was the toughest guy I’ve faced,” said Pavlik, who is ranked number one in the tough middleweight division. “I know he’s dangerous when he’s hurt.”

Pavlik used that same right hand punch to floor Zertuche at the end of the sixth round. The Mexican middleweight beat the count but couldn’t find his own corner. But he continued.

“I wanted to box in the beginning but it turned into a brawl,” said Pavlik of Youngstown, Ohio. “After seven years of tough guys I think I deserve a title fight.”

Zertuche was taken to UCI Medical Center for medical observation, said Armando Garcia, Executive Officer for the California Athletic Commission.

Former Olympian Vanes Martirosyan remained undefeated with a second round knockout of Taronze Washington (9-6) of Dallas in a junior middleweight contest. A right uppercut followed by a left hook dropped Washington in a neutral corner. Referee David Mendoza looked at the fighter and waved the fight finished at 2:21 of the round.

“I’ve been working on my uppercuts a lot in the gym lately,” said Martirosyan (12-0, 8 KOs) of Glendale, California.

Covina’s John Molina needed less than two minutes to prove that Houston’s Rudy Paz’s only hope was a sucker right hand. After trying to connect with a wild right Paz (2-5-1) was dropped three times in the first round.

“I just had to calm down,” said Molina (6-0, 5 KOs) who was fighting before the cameras in a scheduled six-round lightweight bout. “Ben Lira (his trainer) told me to stick to the jab.”

A three-punch combination dropped Paz for the first knockdown. Then a one-two caught Paz walking into the danger area and down he went again. A left-right-left combination made Paz crumble and referee Jack Reiss stopped the fight at 1:59 of the first round.

In a six-round junior bantamweight bout, Mexico’s Francisco Arce (24-3-1, 13 KOs), the younger brother of Jorge, couldn’t miss with the left or right against Colombia’s brave Luis Doria (20-16-1, 13 KOs). Though seriously outgunned, Doria withstood three rounds of battering including two knockdowns in the third round. On the advice of the ringside physician Dr. Paul Wallace referee David Mendoza stopped the fight at the end of the third round.

Russia’s Victor Oganov (26-0, 26 KOs) stormed through veteran Richard “The Alien” Grant with a technical knockout victory at 2:02 of the second round of a super middleweight contest. Oganov battered Grant with a four-punch combo that had Grant’s head snapping back. Referee Reiss wisely stopped the fight though Grant never tasted the canvas.