2010 was a large dose of reality for Chris “The Nightmare” Arreola. In April, He dropped a decision to Tomasz Adamek in Anaheim and ”okay but if he had trained harder he’d have won “ to many and like a guy who had plateaued to others. He came back in August to take on Manny Quezada. Arreola prevailed but failed to excite the crowd nor fill seats. His lackluster training habits saw his waistline expand and ticket sales not to mention faith diminish. Things seemed to come to a head by the end of the year as the once HBO star of tomorrow was given an ESPN date to start the year. It was look good or leave town time and Arreola and his friend and trainer henry Ramirez knew it. Three weeks out from Friday night, Ramirez and Arreola, following a haphazard at best start to camp back in Riverside, CA, touched down in Houston, Texas to begin training at the Savannah Gym. There, under the tutelage of veteran trainer Ronnie Shields, Arreola got down to a fit and ready 249.5 to take on Joey Abell at the Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula, CA.
Shields had cautioned that only some of the improvements in Arreola’s game might not be evident. But they were. To start the round, Arreola moved to his left, which is correct against a southpaw like Abell, pumping his jab and moving his upperbody. At times, Arreola would kind of squat ala Joe Frazier, looking to land a left hook or just guage his opponent. He went right to work closing the distance and getting Abell against the ropes and then getting to his body. Low to the ground and balance, Arreola got in a nice long right and a left. One thing Shields had talked about was Arreola taking the heat off his punches. Every shot in the pats was thrown with terrible intentions. Now he was just touching with balance and getting more bang for his buck.
Abell moved away along the ropes and shot out a jab here and there that Arreola fended off with his gloves or let slide down his forearm. They traded shots to the body and Arreola moved in and attacked to the body as pressed Abell to the ropes. Abell got in a long left that had Arreola touching his nose and nodding his approval. Arreola jabbed three tiomes and crashed in a right hand. They went to center and Abell pumped two jabs and got in a rear left hook at the end of it. Arreola blinked and blocked a follow up lefty hook right hand attack from Abell. Another left got in on Arreola but still he pressed forward behind his shield.
Arreola worked Abell into the corner and waited for him to throw his left hand, stepped back and then in and countered with a beautiful right hand off a left hook to start. The punch went straight threw Abell’s head and into the first row. Abell bent over the top rope backwards and came back to receive an accurate follow up of three left hooks that went with two landed right and a miss. It was beautiful stuff that while not graceful, was perfectly timed and executed.
“I seen that he was leaning a couple times,” Arreola said afterwards. “Whenever he would throw a punch, he pulled back. And that is exactly what he did when he threw the left hand, he pulled back and the right hand was just wide open for me. All I had to do was just keep my balance and make sure I misuse my punches.”
The last shot from Arreola had Abell splayed out to the last point before falling and then he righted his ship and referee Tony Crebbs stepped In and waved it off at 2:18 of the first. Arreola, his victory complete, leaned in and kissed the cheek of Abell who probably had no idea who hit him much less just kissed him.
“I don’t know, man,” Arreola explained with a bashful smile. “I was just so happy. I wanted to thank him one way or the other. It just happened.”
He would later be chastised by an incensed in studio Brian Kenny. While his comments were not in response to Kenny, I tended to believe Arreola’s sincerity that he was not disrespecting Abell but offering a gentlemanly sportsmanlike kiss. Yes, it’s still a little weird either way.
“I’m not going to punch someone going down,” Arreola explained of his switch from punches to smooches at the finish. “I’m not going to get disqualified. I respect boxing. I always say that boxing is the most gentleman sport there is. Before a fight, you don’t know each other, you beat the crap out of each other and then after that shake hands like nothing happened, man. You’ve got to respect it and make sure they go home to their families because that’s what I want to do.”
After kissing Abell, Arreola leapt up on to the top rope and then ran to the ropes and yelled “I’m back, baby. I’m back.”
Some will say “Beating Joey Abell does constitute ‘back.” Arreola would agree.
“It felt great, man,” he said. “But honestly, this is just one fight. I have a lot more to prove. A lot more to prove to the fans, everybody that doubted me, everybody that believed in me. My promoters, my managers, everybody. It doesn’t mean nothing. Its just one fight.”
To this writer, it was the way Arreola took him out coupled with how well conditioned he looked, which you could tell by both his weight and his face, that makes me believe Chris this time out. He looked healthier than I have seen him in years. The right hand was executed to perfection and the finish was as clean as I have seen.
“Everybody knows I am a fighter,” said Arreola when he was asked what changes Ronnie Shields made in him. “There is not too much to change about me,” said Arreola. “But the main thing is he fixed my flaws. As you seen when I threw the right hand, I was balanced. I got everything I could out of it. My jab, my balance and making sure I move my head because I’m ugly and I don’t want to get any uglier.”
Arreola shows signs of a new dedication. The trick will be showing improvement and consistency from here on out.
“It’s always a world title. That’s the master plan,” said Arreola of his 2011 plans. “If you don’t believe you can be a world champion then you don’t belong. I didn’t do it in 2010 and it showed. This is the first fight of 2011 and it showed. Every fight is going to show my dedication.”
In an exciting co-feature Josesito Lopez took the 0 of Mike Dallas, Jr in a rough and tumble fight with a helluva finish.
They tangled and went to canvas right off the bat. Dallas, Jr. did not seem comfortable on the inside and grabbed at Lopez around the waist to tie up. A lot. On one of the occasions, as Lopez came in for a punch, the two men bashed faces and Lopez got the bad end of it, splitting open a little bit off center above the left eyebrow. The cut would be a problem throughout as it dripped on a perfect path into Lopez’ eye.
Dallas was warned for holding and rabbit punching early in the second. He seemed very jumpy, swinging with a left hand and missing so badly he tumbled to the canvas. Lopez took his time, getting closer but not letting his hands go enough. He ate a nice right uppercut by Dallas but stayed relatively sound defensively speaking. Dallas let his one-two go and got some partial landage while Lopez tied up in close and took a low blow the ref ruled clean. By the round’s end, Dallas seem to relax a bit behind a single jab. Lopez got in a left hook at the bell that seemed to rock Dallas and followed it with a right hand that really seemed to rock him.
Dallas came out aggressive to start the third, working Lopez into the corner. Lopez exploded with a combo that shot Dallas in retreat and the two moved to center ring. Both guys kept it to one or two jabs at a time until Lopez landed a nice hook as Dallas stayed on the ropes. There was an awkward moment as Dallas and Lopez locked arms and Dallas ended up with his back to Lopez. His right arm trapped Lopez hit Dallas on his left side by the kidney as his back was turned. The ref warned Dallas to not turn his back but gave him time to recover. Lopez jumped on Dallas as the action resumed. Lopez dropped in the ol’ one-two and you could tell Dallas was not happy about it.
In the fourth, Dallas let his hands go to start, looping in lefts and rights to the body and working his jab. Lopez seemed to ignore the flashier, speedier shots and waited to drop in some substantial body shots or that heavy right he gotten in before. Dallas boxed well, popping his shots at Lopez and moving away but still his legs looked stiff and tense. Perhaps that is his style but overall, he strikes me as a tense fighter who is burning unnecessary energy. Round four came to a close with not much answer from Lopez.
The characters of both fighters were in stark contrast in the fifth. Lopez, the slash on inner corner of his eyebrow now seeping blood into his eyes, pressed forward urgently letting his left hook and right hand cross go with abandon. Defining ‘it’s not the arrival but the route you take to get there,’ Lopez’ hands would land all about Dallas’ person; the side of the head as far back as you can go without being a rabbit punch, the back of the shoulder, the elbow, the chest. Lopez seemed a man who had decided he was going to stop this fight not his cut. Dallas seemed to unravel, complaining to the ref he was being rabbit punch. referee Raul Caiz, jr, who had his hands full with all the holding earlier, watched impassively as Dallas complained at air and got hit by Lopez for his troubles. One man bloody as the day he was born down the middle of his face and the other complaining to the ref because “he’s hitting me wrong.” For at least one corner, a fight had broken out in the middle of a boxing match.
Dallas showed his mettle in the sixth and got back on his bicycle, pumping the jab and working combinations. Lopez picked off a lot of them with guard but spent too much of the round defending to have won it. He did however land some hellacious body shots and a few rabbit punches and borderline rabbit punches down the stretch.
Nice down then up hook pair of hooks and then one on the hip for Lopez to start the seventh. He seemed to take charge right from the start and worked Dallas to the ropes. From there, a hellacious right hand thudded through the banter of the ESPN hosts and got an “Ohhhh” from the crowd. Dallas seemed to unravel a bit. A flush right to the face of Dallas had him holding his hand to the back of his head to the ref who again looked impassively back while Lopez went to work. They tied and went back to work again then tied up once more. Dallas’ body language showed signs that he was giving in. Lopez could sense he was ready. He approached Dallas along the ropes and worked in a few shots. Dallas went for the clinch again and this time as he pitched forward, Lopez led him down with the back his glove. Dallas hit the canvas, went to his knees and rose on “do I have to?” legs.
They squared off one more time and Lopez landed a left hook that got a piece of Dallas that sent him pointing down the road. Lopez whipped another left hook around the guard of Dallas that got him going on his trip and Caiz, jr hopped into to stop before the journey to the darkness could be complete.
The time 1:47. With the win Lopez picked up the NABF light welterweight belt.
In a blowout, Shawn Estrada took out overmatched Jon Schmidt at 1:48 of the first. Schmidt was hurt just moments into the fight and never seemed to get his bearings under him after that. He was dropped three times, each one worse than the next until finally the ref ended it. The former Olympian Estrada is now 11-0 with 10 KOs.