Can You See The Potential? Chris Arreola's March Towards Contention

07.05.07 - By Chris Acosta: It's been recently concluded that the UFC and MMA events have captured the 18-45 year-old Caucasian market. It's no big surprise being as how the majority of those attending the X-Games as opposed to the Olympics are Anglo. Extreme is in. I could try my best to go on some comedic rant as to why white folks love to indulge in what I would consider unnecessary thrill seeking but that's just my take and I do not want to offend anyone with my temporary ignorance (this is also coming from a guy who is afraid of dolls if that should explain something)..

But the facts are poignant in their declaration as a sign of the times. The Caucasian market in America is still considered the mainstream market and if that demographic is indeed defecting to other combat sports then boxing is in some serious trouble. We all know what the problems are and God knows they have been addressed to no end. And we also understand that nothing short of a Red Sea- parting miracle won't give us one champion per division, sensible rankings and free TV bouts.

If boxing is going to revolt it's going to HAVE to come by way of the fighters themselves. The best are going to have to face the best and they are going to have to do so more often. We are seeing evidence of this lately and we can only hope the trend continues but it's just the beginning.

Last night while watching the Oscar De La Hoya - Floyd Mayweather (That should probably be the other way around) bout a friend made a curious statement."Boxing needs a great heavyweight from the U.S. and then people will start watching the other fights."This is pretty much a "no-duh" line and one that we have all discussed before. But what made it so intriguing is that it came from a guy who doesn't ever watch boxing unless I invite him over to watch it. Diehard fans will always be there because we're used to the abuse. But those guys like my buddy who need a good excuse to pay attention are the real gauge of whether boxing will prosper over the next few years. You attract them and then the media has no alternative but to follow.

Of course, this seems to be a problem here in America and nowhere else. I hope all of you in Wales, Denmark and Uzbekistan appreciate what you have dammit! It's not fair!

But this global switch-a-roo was bound to happen eventually. And for the record I enjoy the emergence of eastern European fighters since it provides a unique diversity to the game.In the meantime, we here in America are looking for the next great heavyweight that will resurrect interest in boxing. A couple of guys have come and gone and none were able to walk the walk far enough to close the deal. But while we were looking for that pugilistic messiah in the form of an Olympian we have been overlooking a gem of a prospect if there ever was one: Chris Arreola.

Arreola has five things going for him that get better as you break them down.
1. He's a heavyweight so that takes care of the prerequisite pedigree.
2. He's undefeated and that always sounds good to the casual fan.
3. He's talented and improving which is always a good sign.
4. He's surefire excitement.
5. He's Mexican.

Numbers one and two are dime -a -dozen factors but they aren't what has me so high on him. When I first saw him fight two years ago on ESPN he was 255 lbs and I didn't think too much. I remember the commentators saying that he sparred with James Toney and the Klitschkos but big deal I thought, I could do that. (Though I wouldn't be alive to type this) Fast forward two and- a -half years and I saw him stop fellow undefeated prospect Damian Wills in a fight that forced me to do a double -take. At first I couldn't believe that this was the same guy. What tipped me off however, was that we share the same first name (Cristobal) and so I was sure it was him.

I was shocked. Arreola didn't turn into Mike Tyson by any means but he was significantly lighter which told me that he was serious about his business and he fought at an incredible pace for a heavyweight. He actually learned how to jab in that span of time in which I hadn't seen him and he did something few big men do: throw true combinations. Since then I have seen him dispatch Zakheem Graham and this past Friday night, Malcolm Tann. None of these guys are world- beaters but excuse me for being optimistic. The Mexican-American who goes by the title of "The Nightmare" swarmed Tann from the opening bell, throwing an endless stream of punches that had the audience screaming for more. And the final- round kayo which culminated with Tann being smashed through the ropes was the kind of stuff that takes a fighters confidence to a new level and gets people talking.

Arreola has the size, style and maybe most importantly, the ethnic background to create a huge buzz and in this day and age we should cross our fingers. Mexican heavyweights are a rarity. Let me rephrase that. Mexican heavyweights who are successful are a rarity. Usually abundant in lighter weight divisions, big men of Mexican descent have never been good enough to make the kind of waves that their bloodlines could have ridden to fame (Think Alex Garcia). Most recently, Javier Mora was savagely disposed by Russian Sultan Ibragimov in a single round in a bout that could have lead to a title shot. But Arreola appears to made of different stuff. His will to win and conditioning is already world-class and those two things alone make him someone to reckon with.

Arreola isn't a huge puncher but he does connect with surprising force considering the sheer volume of blows he unloads. As with all aggressive fighters his defense needs work but he has half the battle won with a high guard. He can be reached with uppercuts but I am sure his handlers are well aware of this. Consistent head movement can help him as well. Another plus in a sea of pluses is that he is only 26. Heavyweights in recent years have shown that they peak well into their 30's so he has invaluable time to build experience against different styles and iron out weaknesses. It's too early to tell whether Chris Arreola is championship material but he's done about as much as a prospect can do at this point in his career. In a perfect world he would have been showcased on the under card of this past weekend's superfight but something tells me that his time
to shine will come.

If he can prove to be as good as some insiders are already predicting (okay his promoters are saying that but it sounds believable in this instance) he could rev up the already loyal Latin audience and remind those who've lost their faith in the sweet science as to why they loved it so much in the first place.

Article posted on 07.05.2007

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