Chris Arreola Gets “Extreme”
By Steve Kim, MaxBoxing (Feb 18, 2012) Doghouse Boxing (Photo © German Villasenor)
Chris Arreola
Last year in the wake of a bitterly disappointing 2010, a plan was mapped out by Goossen Tutor, trainer/manager Henry Ramirez and Al Haymon to help Chris Arreola regain his mojo by fighting as often as possible (therefore getting Arreola back in the gym without much down time) to develop rhythm and sharpness he lacked in bouts against Tomasz Adamek and Miguel Quezada. In an era when most world-class pugilists only fight twice (at most, three times) a calendar year, Project Arreola was all about having a strength in numbers.
They wouldn't wait around for months at a time looking for an HBO or Showtime slot to open up or a title shot to come to fruition. Arreola would simply get out there and hone his skills. There was something to be said about quantity over quality as he rolled through the likes of Joey Abell (KO 1), Nagy Aguilera (KO 3), Kendrick Releford (TKO7), Friday Ahunanya (UD 10) and Raphael Butler (TKO 3) in 2011. By today's standards, he was downright Buck Smith-ian in his activity. No, Arreola didn't face “Murderers Row” but this was all just part of a bigger plan.
And he was willing to do this for a fraction of the money he once made on HBO (where Arreola actually cracked the million-dollar mark for his contest versus Vitali Klitschko back in 2009). To Arreola's credit, unlike most prizefighters, he understood the bigger picture.
“I have to do it,” said Arreola, earlier this week as he prepared for his bout tonight against Eric Molina in Corpus Christi, Texas. “I love fighting and I know myself now. That if I stay stale, man, I have too much time to think, too much time to get into trouble, too much time to find trouble and the more I stay in the gym, the more I stay active, the better it is for me. As far as the money, man, does money matter? Yes. But sometimes you just gotta take a little to get a lot later.”
When asked what it was like to fight for a small percentage of what he once did, Arreola answered, “I'm not worried about it. I'm going to make my money back; I know I will. I'm going to take less; I'll end up banking it later on. I know that for a fact. This year, I know it's going to be my year. Last year, I fought five times this year. I wanna fight at least four times [in 2012]. Four times, it can't be any less than that ever. I need to be active.”
Arreola admits having too much free time is his own worst...well, “Nightmare.”
That said, lots of boxers agree (in theory) to embark on what Arreola did in 2011. That is until they realize that working off volume means taking a pay cut and fighting on smaller platforms. Many boxers have been spoiled by the riches and spotlight provided for them on the premium cable networks. Even Ramirez had his doubts that Arreola would stay this course. “To be honest, no,” he stated. “I initially thought there would be some hesitation just because of Chris' mentality and mindset. I'd be lying if I didn't have some doubt in my mind.”
Ramirez, who has been driven up a wall many times by Arreola's less-than-Spartan work ethic, figured that after a fight or two, Arreola would question what they were doing.

“I really did think we would get to that point but to [Arreola]’s credit, he went through the whole year and never got there,” said Ramirez. “He just followed our game plan and we just kept telling him, ‘Look, there's a plan here; you just gotta go along with it. You did it your way before and it failed and backfired on you. Trust in us and you'll get you to the fights you're looking for.’”
So what changed? Arreola has always seemed to have a love-hate relationship with boxing. He enjoyed the competition and what it could bring him materially- not so much the sacrifices that went into it. Ramirez opines, “I think maybe losing to Tomasz Adamek is a real, real thorn in his side, something that he looks back on with a lot of regret. I think he had to look in the mirror. Maybe he had to check himself, so to speak.”
His bout against Molina tonight is another tune-up designed to keep him sharp. It won’t be televised by Showtime but on Showtime Extreme, which is airing the undercard from American Bank Center before the likes of Tavoris Cloud and Paul Williams take the stage under the bright lights.
Arreola is a believer- a busier fighter is a better one.

“It benefits you because the timing comes back much quicker,” he explained. “The more active you are, the timing is going to be there and not only that, you get a lot better, a whole lot better because your timing is already there and whenever you go in the gym, it's just working out now. Working out, it's not about losing weight; it's not “fat camp.” It's not nothing like that- it's about boxing. And that's what benefits me a whole lot more.” According to Arreola, the light bulb went on “probably the third fight, when I fought Kendrick, because the first fight, I fought Joey Abell, I was OK. The second fight with Nagy, I thought it was a whole lot better but in the third fight when I fought Kendrick, I was like, ‘Man, this is so much easier. So much better, man, you just start feeling so much better about yourself also.”
Ramirez adds, “Because he knew he was going to be fighting for far less money than he had in the past and he easily could've said, ‘F**k no, I'm going to disappear,’ like he usually did in the past and not have gone with the program. To his credit, the transformation came from him and solely him. It wasn't anything we hadn't said to him before. The transformation came from him and he totally bought into the program and I think he realized, ‘I need to follow the plan that's set up in front of me to get back to those big fights.’” The bottom line is, unless the fighter decides to follow through, the best laid plans of promoters and managers are all for naught. “We can set forth a plan and put all our collective minds together but if Chris decides to go AWOL or not do something, guess what? Whatever we have planned is going to go to sh*t.”
Speaking of which, does Arreola still ditch the gym once in awhile? Of course, Arreola's going to Arreola but according to the trainer, since he's at the gym much more consistently, nowadays a missed day isn't a cause to put out an APB.
“He may disappear for a day or two,” Ramirez admitted, “and I usually don't panic about that because now where the days are at so much of a premium and we were always battling the weight, now he plays basketball. He'll job in between camps, now. He'll come to the gym, three, four days a week in between fights. So there's not that gap in time where he'll report for a seven-week camp, where every day is magnified. But when he gets here, he shows up at 240, 245 [pounds].”
Before, Arreola was the size of a defensive lineman at the start of camps. Now, he's more along the lines of a linebacker.
With an expected win over Molina, they could be big-game hunting.

“There has to be a big fight. If not a Klitschko fight, I would say an Adamek fight, a rematch, which I know HBO is interested in and I know that's the fight Chris truly craves and salivates for. Either way, it's gotta be something major. We can keep doing this but I know, at some point, Chris is a fighter and he wants those challenges,” stated Ramirez.
When asked this same question, Arreola responded, “Y’ know what? First off, I need to take care of Mr. Molina. He is a dangerous fighter because he's hungry. I'm his ‘Super Bowl’ and I'm his key to where I was at. So I gotta take care of him. I gotta make sure I win convincingly and I beat the crap outta this guy. No offense to him; I respect him in all kinds of ways but y’ know what? I have to be me.”
Arreola is taking this road less traveled to pave his way to a brighter future. He admits he has some regrets.
“There's a lot of regrets I have on the past,” he admits, “but it's done. I did it and it's time for me to move forward and to just change and better myself and learn from it. If I didn't learn from it, then all that for what? Nothing.”

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