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BOXING:

Wilfredo Vazquez, Jorge Arce will look to live up to talk on Pacquiao undercard

Vazquez is a major favorite, but Arce promises a knockout to warm up fans before the main event

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Steve Marcus

Super bantamweight boxer Wilfredo Vazquez Jr., left, of Puerto Rico speaks to Jorge Arce of Mexico as they pose during a news conference at the MGM Grand Thursday, May 5, 2011. Vazquez will defend his WBO super bantamweight title against Arce at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Saturday.

Vazquez Arce News Conference

Super bantamweight boxer Wilfredo Vazquez Jr., left, of Puerto Rico speaks to Jorge Arce of Mexico as they pose during a news conference at the MGM Grand Thursday, May 5, 2011. Vazquez will defend his WBO super bantamweight title against Arce at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Saturday. Launch slideshow »
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Las Vegas Sun sports reporters Case Keefer and Ray Brewer talk all fighting on their Monday radio show, which airs weekly at 5:30 on 91.5 KUNV. They start by looking back on last weekend's historic UFC 129 card in Toronto and then move to Manny Pacquiao's next bout, which comes this Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena against Shane Mosley.

The fighters squaring off in direct support of Manny Pacquiao and Shane Mosley Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena obviously didn’t take cues from the headliners.

Pacquiao and Mosley have declined to talk any trash heading into their welterweight title fight. Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. and Jorge Arce, who meet in a WBO super bantamweight title fight Saturday, went with an opposite approach at Wednesday’s undercard press conference.

Arce, the challenger, started the vocal sparring when it was his turn to take the podium.

“Only one thing I’m sure of,” Arce said, “I’m winning by knockout.”

The declaration sent the 26-year-old Vazquez into a fit of laughter. Vazquez (20-0-1) started glaring at the 31-year-old Arce (56-6-2) and maintained eye contact with him throughout most of his address to the media.

After Vazquez finished thanking his team, he turned in the direction of Arce and gave him a short message in Spanish.

“You have a lot of guts,” Vazquez said, according to a translator. “But you said you were going to knock me out. It isn’t happening. I fight for my family and this is a way of making a living. I’m well prepared to win the fight Saturday night.”

Vazquez and Arce later came together for an entertaining stare down photo. As Arce looked straight ahead, Vazquez talked into his ear for the duration of pose.

Arce eventually taunted Vazquez by putting his index finger over his lip to signal his desire for silence. Vazquez wasn’t interested.

“He’s talking about his KO,” Vazquez said. “He is crazy. He doesn’t have my belt. I am ready for him.”

Oddsmakers tend to agree with Vazquez, who is as high as a 10-to-1 favorite. Arce’s only advantage may come with his experience.

Arce has fought professionally for 15 years, while Vazquez only started boxing five years ago. Although Vazquez grew up around the sport — his father Wilfredo Vazquez Sr. is a three-time world champion — he never considered a career in it.

That changed when he lost his job at a Puerto Rican casino while his wife was pregnant with the couple’s first child. Broke and desperate, Vazquez Jr. approached manager and promoter Felix Zabala about starting to train.

“(Vazquez Jr.) had never worn a boxing glove in his life before,” Zabala said. “He had never fought before in the ring. He had fought in the street many times.”

Vazquez has risen to the top of his weight class rapidly, capturing the WBO title a year ago and successfully defending it twice. But the bout against Arce is the most significant of his career because of the magnitude of this weekend’s event.

Arce is 11-4 in championship bouts throughout his career. He’s one of the most popular fighters in his native Mexico.

That’s why the animosity between Vazquez and Arce failed to surprise Bob Arum, Top Rank president and the show’s promoter. Mexico and Puerto Rico have always shared a fierce boxing rivalry.

“Any time you have a great Mexican fighter against a great Puerto Rican fighter, that’s dynamite,” Arum said. “That’s action.”

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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