Exclusive Interview With Henry Ramirez On The Arreola-McCline Fight

Chris Arreolaby James Slater - At one time it looked as though exciting heavyweight contender Chris Arreola, 26-0(23) was going to land a summer date with IBF and WBO heavyweight king Wladimir Klitschko. Now, however, due to "Dr. Steel Hammer's" fight with David Haye looking like it's back on (In Germany, we hear, on June 20th) Arreola has had to move on for the time being.

Wanting to stay active, the unbeaten 28-year-old crowd-pleaser takes on the huge Jameel McCline next, squaring off with 38-year-old "Big Time" on the April 11th Las Vegas bill that will also feature Paul Williams Vs. Winky Wright.

Very kindly affording this writer some of his time yesterday afternoon, Henry Ramirez, trainer, of course, of "The Nightmare" spoke about the upcoming heavyweight rumble his guy will have with the 39-9-3(23) former heavyweight title challenger..

Here are Henry's answers to my questions.

James Slater: Firstly, Henry, is Chris motivated for this fight? I know he was looking towards a possible title fight with Wladimir Klitschko. Now that he has McCline instead is he sufficiently "up" for the fight?

Henry Ramirez: Yeah, he's motivated. The world title fight didn't come off, so we've gotta move on, we've got to look at other avenues and keep busy. Chris didn't want to just sit around and do nothing.

J.S: What do you think to McCline, then?

H.R: McCline's an older guy, but he's been in with all the top names of the division. He's a big, physical guy. He's not a huge puncher, but I'd say he is an underrated puncher. I was actually just saying to Chris, McCline has knocked down a lot of the top guys he's been in with, but for some reason he's been unable to finish them off. I think he basically let Sam Peter off the hook, really.

J.S: Have you heard anything about a title shot for the future, after you get past McCline?

H.R: No, nothing has been said. Our focus right now is totally on April 11th, and we're not even thinking about anything else at this point.

J.S: As you said, McCline has knocked down a lot of guys and he's often dangerous early on in a fight. Will Chris be fighting cautiously in the first few rounds in April?

H.R: No, Chris won't be fighting with caution - he'll be wary early on. But Chris is also dangerous early in fights, and if he boxed cautiously that would take him out of his game-plan. He'll fight his fight, which is to put the pressure on and use head movement. I don't have to tell you what Chris' approach is. He'll get on the inside and fight hard.

J.S: Do you expect a long fight or a short fight?

H.R: I expect a long fight really. McCline has been durable in fights for the most part. He didn't disgrace himself at all against Peter, he took his best punches.

J.S: Am I right in saying Jameel will be the tallest guy yet for Chris?

H.R: The tallest name fighter, yeah. In the real early days of Chris' career he fought one guy who was a little taller than McCline. Chris has been in training camp for two weeks now, and we'll be getting real big guys to spar with - guys around 6'5" to 6'8" and around 250-pounds.

J.S: Does Chris have any concerns about being out-reached and out-jabbed?

H.R: Well, McCline has a nice jab and a long reach, but we don't plan on Chris being on the end of that for too long. He'll get inside that and make it his fight. The main thing is that Chris will be in optimum shape for this fight.

J.S: In his last fight, against Travis Walker, Chris was knocked down early. Was he badly hurt or was it just a flash knockdown?

H.R: It was a flash knockdown. He was down on one knee and he was coherent and listening to the referee as you can see on the tape of the fight. Chris had his hands up also. The fight had two parts to it. It was all Walker before the knockdown, and then it was all Chris after the knockdown. You kind of need to go through that [getting put down and passing a gut check by coming right back] to be able to progress to the next level. It's so funny that some people are now saying that Chris has a glass chin (laughs). I mean, two big strong guys were fighting hard and he got caught, went down, and then got right back up. How can anyone say he has a glass chin!?

J.S: In the past McCline has been criticised for boxing negatively and somewhat boringly. Obviously you can't help it if he does that in April, but does Chris have any concerns that he might box negatively and hold and spoil a lot?

H.R: No, he's not worried about that. Like you say, we can't do anything about how McCline approaches the fight. He has been safety first in the past, but Chris will be in shape and make it his fight.

J.S: In your opinion, will Chris be content if he were to get a points win, or does he really want the KO in April?

H.R: He's gonna go for the KO, but at the same time, there's nothing wrong with a clear 12-round points win. If the fight does go all the way Chris will prove, perhaps even to himself, that he can go 12 hard rounds if he needs to. He'll be in shape to go the 12 if he has to.

J.S: It's been a pleasure as always, Henry. Good luck for April 11th.

H.R: Okay, thanks, James.

Article posted on 05.03.2009

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