Crossroads: Deontay Wilder vs. Chris Arreola
By Allan Cerf, Dog House Boxing (July 16, 2016)
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Background: I would forgive you for claiming that in every article I write, I acknowledge the cliché but then state: this IS a “Crossroads” Fight. You're thinking - Dude! what fight ISN'T one according to Allan Cerf? Fair enough! Well - historically, Ali-Ellis wasn't a crossroads fight. Virtually every fight save Klitschko David Haye ever fought wasn't one. Most of Canelo Alvarez's fights aren't crossroads fights, even, according to him, the one he lost to Mayweather - though he'll never have a more meaningful fight or better opponent.
Background: Chris Arreola, he of the sunny temperament, creepy surname, very hard punches and chronic poor conditioning takes on Bama's slammin,' Deontay Wilder. Wilder sports a frightening right hand that literally sends tough men to the hospital. He improves in every fight.
He's less hittable. He moves pretty well given his size.
And yet - I'm still not convinced by Wilder. You don't come out of nowhere to become world-champion without considerable behind the scene action. In his case, mostly cream puff competition via clever match-making, and as I understand it - an acknowledgement that his team is petrified that a fellow big hitter will kill the improved, yet still easily hittable Deontay. A defensive genius he ain't. And at 31 - he's not going to become one - even if he were to lodge fulltime at the Mayweather gym. And no, I don't think his bronze medal at the Olympics means dookie - though it means much more than Anthony Joshua's undeserved gold!
Now the pluses: Wilder's jab and huge right. True, as he's stepped up the right has been less a one punch wonder. Lately, it's been the shot Wilder's victims don't see that makes even the most ghoulish of boxing fans bite their lips. Just ask the Polish Pin, Artur Szpilka, holding his own until he was hit with a right he didn't see. Unconscious for minutes, he spent days in the hospital.
In fact, Deontay doesn't hit as monstrously hard as Lennox Lewis for instance: if he did he would have held his own against David Haye rather than getting stopped in training - it's out on You Tube if you're curious. These days, against thank God, better competition, Wilder can't storm out and smoke his opponents. Facing real fighters, Deontay mostly hides the right behind that long jab, ala Lennox Lewis. Even more often he throws the right from crazy, uneducated angles. That's the recipe for virtually all his bouts ending early. Wilder's angles are actually a case of turning a negative - a piss-poor boxing background - into a huge plus. He throws from bad angles through a lack of technique - rather than the design of a Pea Whitaker or Calzaghe - but is it ever effective. Now you see it, now you-BOOM. The other plus is improved stamina and as stated, his excellent, long left jab.
Arreola, Wilder's opponent, couldn't help but disappoint as his career wore on and I blame his then-team, Goossen-Tutor, for much - but of course not all of the disappointment. Goossen-Tudor had no qualms for instance, saying fighter Andre Ward was overmatched vs. Kessler (he wasn't) so why in the late years of the last decade did they tell the world that Arreola was a sure thing to bring the belts back to their rightful home, the USA? HBO rolled over and it really went to Chris's head. Arreola does have some pretty good skills - a solid background, surprisingly quick combinations for a stout, big man and a finisher's instinct. However, when thrown in too deep with Vitali Klitschko, even Lampley's cheerleading (and I'm a fan of Mr. Lampley) couldn't alter what really went down. Vitali scarcely lost a minute of any round. Arreola's supposed rallies never really happened.
While I give Arreola heavy credit for taking enormous punishment, he eventually gave up. Towards the end, he was reduced to tapping his heart to show the crowd he had one. Next, he began shaking his arm to inform the crowd he was fighting injured, which he wasn't. Then, he protested when his team stopped the fight - but he was clearly relieved. Post-fight, his fake crying-cursing jag was a disgrace. He reminded one of a 3- year- old--crying one minute, laughing (or cursing in this case) another. As bad as this was, the cake-taker were contemptuous remarks from Goossen-Tutor: "Vitali is 7 feet tall. Why didn't he knock Chris out earlier?" Look no further for an example of total lack of class. And in trying to heap dirt on the present Mayor of Kiev, Ukraine, Goossen and Co. only buried their own man!
Let me reply immediately to a legit question: "What about Arreola's often terrible conditioning?" Psych job in my opinion. He knows that he's a good fighter but not the scripted Goossen-Tutor world-beater. So, why the hell not eat too much between bouts? Why not down another of his beloved six packs? You've peaked. You can only say, "This time will be different" so many times. Even Chris can't believe it.
Fighters (2016) Scorecards:
Average of all factors: B
Age: C Average of all factors: B-
Reality Check: Given the huge odds favoring Wilder I have to guess that Chris looks lousy in training. Arreola's placating remarks in the build-up certainly don't sound like a man coming to rip away those belts. Perhaps this is a cash-out fight? I doubt at this stage the fee he will receive can offset the potential damage to his health he may face if he's going in merely to survive.
The fight and Prediction:
If Arreola comes in at anything over a career-low in weight, I think this will be over in 6 rounds or less. If he comes in fantastic shape and throws those powerful combinations, the freight-train size holes in Wilder's defense will be obvious. Wilder, for all his power is no stranger from moving, if not actually running away from the action when an opponent’s land hard shots. Even mediocre opponents like Eric Molina have staggered The Bronze Bomber.
So if the very best Arreola comes in and throws combinations, Wilder could be in quicksand indeed. The trouble is that Wilder's angles are almost as crazy as Vitali Klitschko's and as Larry Merchant in a fit of genius once coined it: "the geometry of the fight" will conspire to thwart Chris Arreola.
Arreola simply couldn't escape Klitshko's insane geometry and Wilder's idiotic savant version will probably have a similar effect. No knock on Chris. If Lennox fought Tyson 10 times, he'd win 7 of them.
I see Arreola coming in just light enough to lose - meaning he won't be in fantastic shape, merely good shape, and that's just not going to work. I see him hitting Wilder with impunity for 4-5 rounds and I see Deontay doing that ugly-ass "not running but pretty damn close" routine.
However the Goossen-Tutor hype machine in Chris's head will kick in as Wilder sticks around. When Deontay begins to connect, Chris's stamina will dribble away.
I expect Arreola to take a lot of rights starting in the 6th, mark up badly like always, but hang in there on heart until the referee saves him between rounds seven and nine. If Chris hadn't had a few humbling defeats I would pick him to win going away. But he has taken those defeats. And he's 35.
The Wilder hype machine will roll on - and on. Until someone of similar stature but superior fundamentals exposes him as the Ron Lyle of this generation - though in fact, that's to be a bit unfair to Lyle.
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