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Arreola Gives Himself a Fighting Chance

(Photo © Goossen Tutor Promotions / Brittini Moten)
(Photo © Goossen Tutor Promotions / Brittini Moten)


This Saturday night from the hoops home of the USC Trojans, Chris Arreola gets another crack at Bermane Stiverne (ESPN, 8 p.m., ET) at the Galen Center for the vacant WBC heavyweight title. Last year, they met at the Citizens Business Bank Arena, located about an hour away in Ontario. Stiverne broke Arreola’s nose, knocked him down and bloodied him over 12 rounds. The scores (117-110 twice and 118-109) were indicative of Stiverne’s dominance that night.
 
When asked to recall that loss, Arreola said to a small group of reporters who had made the drive to the House of Boxing in San Diego a few weeks ago, “First rounds, it seemed like I was controlling the fight pretty easy. But the third round, I got a little complacent, was just cruising along the round and then I threw that lazy-ass jab and that mother*cker hit me with a right hand over the top. Don’t want to call it a lucky punch because it was a time punch; it was a perfect punch. Once I fell, I just felt my nose just shatter, gushing blood. I was like, ‘Fuck, it’s broke.’ After that, man, it was a fight I couldn’t win. It was an uphill battle, man, because I’m a fighter who comes forward. I’m a guy that’s going to brawl. I’m a guy that’s going to bring the fight to him and once my nose was shattered, every punch was the most powerful punch I ever got hit with. I could feel my bones just grinding against each other.

“If you watch the fight, a couple of times I was inside and exchanged, you could just see my face grimace in pain and stuff like that. It was very painful; there was a couple of times I was going to throw in the towel but if it wasn’t for [trainer] Henry [Ramirez] [and] my other cornerman pushing me through it, it probably would’ve ended.”
 
Boxing is a tough game and fighters are a different breed. Arreola is another example of this, saying he’s actually happy he went through this harrowing experience.
 
“Absolutely, man. I’m very glad; I’m very proud. I’m honored and I’m glad Henry and Danny [Zamora] pushed me through it because I would’ve kicked myself in the ass,” he says. “It also shows he couldn’t take me out. I was a wounded animal. I was hurt; I was ready to be taken out and he couldn’t do it. That does a lot for somebody’s psyche.”
 
A familiar storyline for their first match-up is that, once again, Arreola simply didn’t prepare in a professional manner. His trainer, Henry Ramirez had no problems in admitting this before the bout to several reporters in April of last year. It led to Ramirez taking his fighter to Arizona for training camp and away from the temptations of Riverside (yes, Riverside) that exist for Arreola. They were paired with Seth Mitchell last September, when he scored a first round KO of the former Michigan State linebacker.
 
According to the trainer, the key is to take his fighter away to camp.

“Absolutely, the Arizona thing worked out great and same here with San Diego. You take his ability to create bullsh*t at home away from him when you’re at camp,” said Ramirez, who added that the contrast between the physical and mental conditioning with which they come into this Stiverne bout is “night and day. You can’t even compare. Stiverne said something about this fight being determined on skills not shape. Well, that’s not really true because when you’re not in shape, you’re not able to show what you can fully do in the ring. But it’s like night and day.”
 
Ramirez understood what an uphill climb they were in for that April.
 
“Oh, very much so, I know the lack of work that was put in. I knew if we got past a certain round, we were f*cked and it’s great to know that going into this fight, going into the Seth Mitchell fight, it didn’t matter if Chris scored an early KO because he put in the work - just like he did now.”
 
Arreola says, “The difference is I came into the fight with more confidence, a lot more confidence. I have less doubt in my mind. When you come into a fight - and not just speaking for me but for every fighter - with no doubt in your mind that you worked your ass off in the gym, the fight becomes that much easier because you believe in yourself. You believe in what you put in and you believe what you’re capable of regardless of what the other person brings. You believe in yourself more than what the other guy’s going to bring to the table.”
 
Even in optimum condition, with his quick hands and athleticism, Stiverne presents a stern test for Arreola. But you get the sense that Stiverne will be pushed much more this time around. Watching Arreola working out and moving around the ring on Tuesday afternoon at the Galen Center (at the men’s basketball practice gym where a media workout was held), you could see the results of the work that was put in. Ramirez says he expects his charge to come in right around the 238-to-242-pound range.
 
But have the fans lost interest in Arreola? Are they sick of hearing that the dog ate the homework? Is Arreola the “Boy Who Cried Wolf” one too many times?
 
“Y’know, if I lost any fans, I should’ve lost them versus [Tomasz] Adamek or against Manny Quezada. Manny Quezada is someone I respect. I like the dude but he never should’ve gone 12 rounds with me at all. My last fight versus Stiverne, if anything, I probably should’ve gained more fans because I went through injuries that most fighters would’ve just quit ala Victor Ortiz, ala whoever it is that quit after that broken bone or whatever it is,” explained Arreola. “We kept pushing through it. I kept trying to win the fight. I kept believing in my abilities. I kept believing in my punching power.”
 
That said, he doesn’t blame fans for their skepticism.
 
“F*ck no, I don’t, man. It’s like Henry saying he’s on a diet. Look at the guy; the mother*ckers not on a diet,” he teased, bringing about laughter from everyone. So what changed? Why, at age 33, has the light suddenly gone on for Arreola? “My wake-up call was watching that fight over. Watching that fight over and then I got an opportunity against Seth Mitchell, a guy that doesn’t belong in the ring with me. I was like, ‘Yo, f*ck him; I’m going to fuck him up. I’m going to come in there and run him over. I’m going to show him he doesn’t belong in the ring,’ and that’s what I have to do stay in this fight.”
 
Arreola was insulted to be paired with Mitchell. Yeah, sure, he was an athlete good enough to play football in the Big 10. But as the saying goes, you don’t play boxing. And to Arreola, Mitchell was an interloper in his sport. Last September, Arreola needed less than a round to stop Mitchell, which, in essence, ended the relevancy of one career and revived another.
 
“Even though Stiverne is a much more capable fighter than Seth Mitchell, I’ve got to come in with the mindset that I’ve got to run him over. I’ve got to get him out of there as fast as I can,” Arreola continued. “Regardless, they ain’t paying me overtime. After the first round, they’re paying me a flat rate. So either I get him out of there in the first, second round or 12 rounds. Y’know, I don’t want to go 12 rounds because that’s a long workday for me.”
 
This time around, he’s prepared to actually go 36 hard minutes if need be.
 
“He’s been very, very professional. Last two camps have been solid, starting off with the Seth Mitchell camp in Arizona. It gave me hope that we could turn him around because I thought if we got to Arizona and we still had to go through the same bullsh*t...” said Ramirez, chuckling at the thought. Through the years, he’s had to show the patience of Job to not wring his fighter’s neck. It’s not an easy job training the often temperamental and flaky big man. “There might be a day here and there where he tries to get lazy but you take the opportunity away from him and he does the work. He might bitch and complain but he’ll do the work. That’s the difference.”
 
At his age, Arreola is seeing the sands of time run out on his career. There isn’t that much time left to screw around and squander what could be. Yes, he’s a Mexican heavyweight (which could be a license to print money if he wins this crown) and connected to Al Haymon but it’s now or never for him. He seems to recognize that. Right now, Arreola’s legacy is that of the colorful and fun fighter who was involved in some good scraps but ultimately underachieved.
 
 
“I don’t want to be one of those ‘woulda, coulda, shoulda’ guys,” he states. “I don’t want to be that guy anymore.”

TIX INFO

If you’d like to attend this weekend’s heavyweight title bout, the first boxing card at the Galen Center, here’s the 411:

Tickets priced at $300, $200, $100, $50 and $25 (plus fees) for the Heavyweight World Championship night of boxing are available through the USC Ticket Office located in the Student Union, 213-740-4672 (GOSC), or www.galentix.com or www.ticketmaster.com. Doors will open on the day of the event at 3:00 p.m., PT with the first bell at 3:30 p.m., PT.

TNR

The latest episode of “The Next Round” with Gabe Montoya and Yours Truly:

Maxboxing Live: The Next Round Episode 479

DRAFT FLURRIES

On Monday May 26th  FoxSports1 will televise a bout between Rene Alvarado and Rocky Juarez from Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas...So will Yuriorkis Gamboa actually make it to the press conference in Omaha? Let’s cross our fingers...Anyone else remember what a big deal it was a long time ago when the NFL Draft moved to the weekends?...There will never be a moment like Bill Tobin vs. Mel Kiper in 1994...I can be reached at k9kim@yahoo.com and I tweet at www.twitter.com/stevemaxboxing. We also have a Facebook fan page at www.facebook.com/MaxBoxing, where you can discuss our content with Maxboxing readers as well as chime in via our fully interactive article comments sections.


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