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
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
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.
The latest episode of “The Next Round” with Gabe Montoya and Yours Truly:
Maxboxing Live: The Next Round Episode 479
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...
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