At a “Big Time” Crossroads: Arreola vs McCline

Chris ArreolaBy P.H. Burbridge - There’s no easy way to win the heavyweight championship of the world. If you look at the entire history of the sport you’ll quickly realize that compared to the number of fighters who have set out to win the championship only a precious few have actually had their shot and even fewer have actually won it. Challenging for the title is an amazing honor. Just getting there is nothing short of a miracle. When Chris Arreola steps into the ring on April 11th on the Paul Williams – Winky Wright undercard he’ll be looking across the ring at a man who has been there.

A man who has fought the best the division has to offer and understands the stakes. Jameel “Big Time” McCline (39-9, 23 KO’s) is one the giants of the division literally and figuratively. Standing 6’ 6” and weighing in the 270 lb range, McCline is an imposing figure who proved in his fight against Samuel “The Nigerian Nightmare” Peter that he’s still a dangerous man. He’s a late comer to the sport but his athleticism has enabled him to carve out a niche for himself. He can also punch! He’s currently ranked #13 by the WBC and this is probably the last go around for the 38 year old McCline and I’m sure he knows it. He’s at that age when the obvious question keeps comes up again and again. “How much longer?” How much longer can you do this? It’s one thing if you win the title and defend it late into your 30’s but what if you don’t win it? How long can you justify continuing to your family? Well, McCline is fast approaching the end of his career with a life experience in the ring that few can imagine. He’s been chosen as the “opponent” for an up and coming “possible” superstar. In essence, he holds Chris Arreola’s future in his fists. He also holds his own legacy. And, with one fell swoop he can re-write his entire story.

Jameel McCline is viewed as one of the good guys of the sport. He’s well spoken and has a likable personality. There’s nothing spectacular about his style in or out of the ring. He’s been accused of being too cautious, easily fatigued, lacking killer instinct and being too nice a guy for his own good. All those things are partially true. Some say “he should have finished Peter!” While others point to his performance against Wladimir Klitschko to underline his lack of championship vigor. All that said McCline is still a danger. He does have skill and there’s always that possibility that one day he’ll put it all together. A man his size is always just one punch from away from turning the tide. McCline has a solid jab and he throws a deceptively hard right uppercut. He’s dangerous in the first 5 rounds. No secret there. After that he typically tires and his punch output drops significantly. It’s at this point that his opponents usually step on the gas and leave the bigger man in their rear view mirror. Wladimir Klitschko, Chris Byrd, Calvin Brock, Sam Peter, etc…That’s also, not a secret.

But, there is a component to this upcoming fight with Cristobal “The Nightmare” Arreola (26-0, 23 KO’s) that cannot be measured and that’s the desperation/motivation factor of McCline. A fighter with his back against the wall who comes into a fight where he literally has nothing to lose and everything to gain will always be dangerous. McCline’s motivation here is obvious. If he can get past Arreola who knows what will be waiting for him on the other side. He can start calling out David Haye another “up and comer” possibly picking up another healthy payday. One thing is certain, he will re-enter the discussion at heavyweight if he wins. You just never know in boxing. A lot of good things could happen for Jameel if he can beat this one man. I’m sure he looks at Arreola and thinks to himself that he can do this. I’m sure most of Arreola’s opponents feel that way. He’s one of those guys who looks beatable but that can be deceptive as we all know and so far Arreola’s been able to fool them all. However, this fight is something different. It’s an intriguing match up that will answer a lot of question about Arreola and should force him to be at his best. Conditioning is the key to this fight for Arreola. He’ll have to come prepared to out work his man which is something he hasn’t been forced to do with his 23 KO’s. Arreola has established a new commitment to his conditioning regimen in response to much criticism and this fight will be his opportunity to silence those who question his commitment. He’s fighting a man who has world class experience and a lifetime of knowledge that can only be achieved one way. By fighting the best fighters in your division! Yes, he’s been on the short end of those fights but he has always been competitive and I don’t think he’ll be anything less this time around.

Regardless, of what will be said of this match up in the coming weeks one thing can not be disputed. Jameel McCline is the biggest challenge of Chris Arreola’s career and a misstep here will have a catastrophic impact on the rest of his career.

A win here and the Arreola express will continue on its course towards a heavyweight championship showdown with one of the Brother’s “K”!

(Please feel free to contact P.H. Burbridge via email at with any comments or feedback.)

Article posted on 03.03.2009

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