After stopping Tomas Rojas with a come from behind, career rejuvenating surprise gutshot, Jorge “Travieso” Arce called out Vic Darchinyan, Martin Castillo, and Jhonny Gonzales, among others.
The name Cristian Mijares also came up.
For Arce, there are question marks that come before any of those matches, Spanish grammatical rules or not.
Did the streaking success of rising stardom make Arce soft? Did a rude awakening beat down at the slick hands of Mijares last April show Arce’s limitations, or did it inspire him with a renewed hunger?
Arce (47-4-1) faced those and other thumping unknowns when he squared off with the well-respected Rojas (26-11) on Sunday evening. Arce may not have fully answered all related rumbling inquiries, but to notch the nod against a foe like Rojas on a rough night like Sunday was enough.
“I want to prove I’m one of the best Mexican champions ever,” Arce repeated before and after the bout.
He still has things to prove. It was almost a Waterloo moment, Vegas style.
After the Juan Manuel Marquez – Rocky Juarez bout scheduled for Saturday was postponed, Arce had Mexican Independence Day weekend to himself and sought to reassure his fans that the crushing, boxing lesson type defeat to Mijares was just a fluke he was ready to move beyond.
Instead, Arce’s jerk and maul attack movement didn’t do anything to deter Rojas from piling on the straight-armed jabbing points.
Indeed, Mijares, who has faced both contestants, earnestly predicted Rojas would hand Arce his second big loss in a row.
Rojas did his part to bogart victory at the Hard Rock Joint before a packed house of around 1,400 howlers. If not for the deflating body shot Arce speared in during round six, it looked like Rojas would emerge with a clear 12 round decision.
After five finished frames, Arce was behind on all official cards. Two judges gave all previous rounds to Rojas.
The taller Rojas looked much thinner than the deceivingly sturdy Arce at the weigh-in, and Rojas proved to have more crucially susceptible ribs.
Bone pickin’ time came none too soon for Arce.
Rojas sank without air in his lungs and barely got up at nine. When Arce swarmed in like he was almost loco, referee Joe Cortez waved it off at 1:00 of the sixth.
For 28 year old Arce, once considered worthy of a prominent pound for pound ranking, it was a career-salvaging move in the right direction. But the public’s palate is impatient. There are plenty of contenders for every open cable date.
Top Rank hopes to build the flamboyant Arce into a Michael Carbajal pay-per-view type attraction. Arce lost a classic Tijuana brawl to Carbajal in 1999, then racked up 26 straight before running, perhaps unprepared, into Mijares.
Mijares made a plodding Arce appear almost frozen.
“I have nobody to blame for losing except myself,” Arce told the press regarding Mijares. “I had distractions like a wedding and business. I understand that I’ll have to beat the best fighters for the public to accept my claims as a champion.”
Arce, a recent staple of Top Rank’s strong, Mexican flavored pay per view series, figures to be just another bloody stand or two from a major title appearance.
To hear Arce tell it, he’s learned his lesson. Rojas, and many observers, might beg to differ.
Arce has proved to be an exciting fighter to watch.
If Arce can still do that, and win a bit more comfortably than Sunday night, then he’ll be back on the right track.