Is Chris Arreola Eating His Way Out Of Heavyweight Contention?

Paul McCreath: Over the past few months like most heavyweight fans I have been on the Chris Arreola bandwagon and like many I have considered him to be America's number one prospect in that division. This 27 year old has been impressive in compiling a 25-0 record with 22 KOs. He is exciting with good power and a good chin. What's not to like right? Well I hate to be picky but there is that one thing, his weight and I am getting concerned..

When Chris won the National Golden Gloves title in 2001 he was 20 years old and weighed 175 pounds. Now I know that 20 year olds are often still growing boys and can be expected to fill out and gain some weight even if they get no taller but Chris has gone beyond the reasonable. Since turning pro he has always looked rather fleshy at best as his weight ranged most often between 240 and 255 pounds. When Arreola met Damian Wills in a big test back in November 2006 he got down to 229.His next bout was at 230. He looked and talked like he was getting serious about his conditioning. Then he started packing on the pounds again. For the Chazz Witherspoon fight last June he was up to 239 and looking very chubby. In September he hit the highest weight yet at 258 and 1/2 for Israel Garcia. That is 83 and 1/2 pounds more than his championship weight! At this rate he will soon give James Toney a run for his money in the lard department.

I know that all heavyweights cannot have ripped bodies like the Klitschko brothers or David Haye. We have had some chubby, soft looking champs over the years like Tim Witherspoon for example. We have had many others who got fat after winning a belt but all of these didn't stay long at the top. The thing is in over 50 years of following heavyweight boxing closely I don't recall any fat prospects who made it big. Remember James "Broadaxe" Broad or Buster Mathis Sr. or more recently Kirk Johnson? They all ate their way out of success and Chris Arreola seems to be going in the same direction. Many reasons have been given for the decline in American heavyweights and most are true to some degree. I am inclined to think that obesity is one of the biggest reasons why we are seeing few really good ones anymore.

I did a study a few months ago where I compared the weights of the top 10 heavies from 40 years ago to the ten best today who are the same height. I found that today's boxers are 28.4 pounds heavier and remember we are talking about fighters who are the same height. The problem is that today's big guys are simply not dedicated enough to eat right and train hard and keep their weight under control. Chris seems to be like so many of the others.

On November 29 Arreola is tentatively listed to take on fellow prospect and former amateur champ Travis Walker in what will be a real test for both men. Travis is a big man himself at about the same height as Chris,around 6 foot 4 inches. He lets his weight come up for easy fights to as much as 250 but for the competitive ones he keeps it to a reasonable 235 or so.

While I think Chris has the edge in punching power and chin over Travis he could be in trouble in this one if he thinks he can get away with weighing 258 or more for this level of competition. Travis could very well be the first to send Chris crashing to defeat.

I hope I am wrong about Chris because I like him and I would like to see him win a title. It would be good for boxing to have an exciting young slugger at the top again. What do you folks think?

Article posted on 29.10.2008

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