Misconceptions on Chris Arreola
By Chris Acosta - As the WBC heavyweight title fight between champion Vitali Klitschko and contender Chris Arreola nears, I thought it necessary to clear up a few misconceptions.
Article posted on 10.09.2009
It seems that the overwhelming consensus is that Arreola has almost zero chance to dethrone Klitschko based upon a variety of factors which I shall address in a moment. But in our apparent herd mentality to repeat everyone else’s predictions, we’ve become tunnel -vision personified; unable or perhaps unwilling, to see more than our stubbornness’ will allow. So, I’ve compiled a few things to consider; my way of simply being objective and in no way trying to create any more hype or intrigue than someone of my glorious anonymity could not ignite to begin with.
Misconception #1: Chris Arreola has only one chance to win and that is by early knockout.
I have read this assumption on just about every other web geeks forecast and find it a tad puzzling. Yes, Arreola has been winning by quick KO lately so naturally, one might assume that coupled with his aggressive style, that he’s the stereotypical puncher who fades the longer his bouts go..
Before he was wiping the floor with ChazzWitherspoons’ and Travis Walkers, Arreola was beating up his opponents with progressively more cruelty over the course of an entire fight. He started from the
opening bell and seemed to just keep throwing more and more punches until every round looked exactly the same. Does anyone remember the sudden deflation of Damien Wills or that instantaneous rush to take out Malcom Tann in the final round when Chris was already way ahead on the scorecards? There’s an almost nonchalant demeanor to the man while all hell is breaking loose. I mean, just how often do we see big guys fight like that? I am never overly impressed by heavyweights who are big and strong, after all; they’re heavyweights and that sort of goes with the package. The ones who stick out are the big men with unusual speed or volume. Arreola is unquestionably the latter.
Chris fights in a totally relaxed manner that allows him to set a crisp pace, an intangible that is often overlooked in boxers regardless of weight class. He’s not likely to feel anything out of the ordinary should the fight blast off at moments notice; he’s used to it. The longer this fight goes, the better I see it for the Californian. Barring any cuts or swelling from Klitschko’s jab (a possibility for sure), Arreola could force Vitali into a long and grueling fight which will automatically level the playing field: The champion’s experience and craftiness versus the challenger’s youth and energy.
Misconception #2: Arreola has a weak chin.
No sooner had “The Nightmare” hit the deck against Walker then did the critics leap into their computer desks and whack away on their ergonomic keyboards.
“If a weak-chinned journeyman like Walker could drop him, then imagine what Klitschko will do to him?” They collectively asked.
Not so fast.
Just because a guy comes factory -equipped with a name like “Dr. Ironfist” and the highest kayo percentage of any heavyweight champion in history, does not the entire story tell itself. Consider: Jameel McCline, a huge heavyweight but modestly regarded puncher, has scored knockdowns against Sam Peter and Chris Byrd, something Vitali could not achieve. Jameel buckled Arreola but didn’t put him down and so in theory, Chris’ chin should be able to withstand the sheer force of Klitschko’s right hand. Vitali is more of an attrition- type puncher anyway so it may take him a substantial amount of work to hurt the Mexican-American. And in readdressing Arreola’s relaxation factor: fighters who are calm are less likely to be hurt. Chris will get hit but my hunch is that he’s loose enough to ride it out.
Walker was bombarding Arreola with punches and able to sneak one past his defense; his volume creating the opening. Vitali isn’t going to jump on his challenger and hammer away in this fashion because it’s not his style and he’s too good to fall into that trap. The Ukrainian will look to do what has gotten himself here in the first place: box at a measured pace and control the distance at which the bout is fought. So in effect, Arreola will be allowed to come forward which he likes to do anyway and he’ll be much less likely to be overwhelmed.
Misconception #3: Arreola is a glorified club fighter looking to cash in on a humongous pay day.
Let’s analyze this one.
While Chris will never be described as a beautiful boxer, he can box. If the art of “boxing” conjures up images of a guy running around behind a jab, then you haven’t been paying attention to this sport
very well. Boxing isn’t just hit and not be hit; it’s fighting within your envelope via subtleties that pay dividends over the span of an entire fight. Arreola isn’t going to get on his toes (unless he’s reaching for the cookie jar on top of the fridge- sorry, had to go there) and bounce around and he doesn’t need to.
If you notice closely, Chris reverts to basics at the most opportune times. If he can’t find your head, he hits you to the body. If you hold your hands high, the uppercut comes into play. If he hurts you, he doesn’t load up; it all starts off with a double jab and then the heavy artillery follows. That double jab, in my mediocre opinion, is priceless. It’s not particularly fast nor punishing but instead, distracts his opponent from both countering or seeing what else is on the way.
And let’s not forget the art of combination punching. Most heavyweights let it all go once their foes are already hurt, after all; the risk of getting hit back is reduced greatly when the other guy can barely stand on his own. Very few know how to go about it the right way when the other guy is still fresh and fully capable of firing back. It takes a real nerve and skill to walk such a dangerous line. Punching with any sort of variety is a learned ability that takes years to make the transformation towards second nature. Once this is achieved, the fighter is much less likely to rely on any particular punch to get the job done; he becomes comfortable with either fist, in any situation.
Chris has a knack for finding those little nooks in a man’s defense and putting his fists right into them. He’s not a devastating puncher but he hits you a lot and getting hit a lot, sucks. I myself am shocked that this man -having such average hand speed, at best- can connect with such precision. It’s actually a wonderful thing to see: a guy without serious explosiveness, finesse or eye-catching talent, able to get more out of himself than should be the case.
Misconception #4: Arreola isn’t a serious athlete. I’m going to be the optimist here.
In a perfect world, the challenger would arrive at the fight weighing 235 pounds. However, my feeling is that he’ll come in twenty pounds over that. Is that a serious disadvantage? I’m not so sure. In modern times, we’re geared up to believe that the greatest athletes are all about what is seen on the outside. It’s a product of our materialistic, impatient society that reality has become a phantom, an illusion to compensate for the things we don’t want to see or cannot understand
There’s tons of sports supplements out there (some of them legal) that promise Adonis city and with MMA all the rage, kids see muscularity as the final indicator of fighting prowess. And can we blame them? A solid physique is an indicator of general health and pride in ones appearance. It translates into commitment and professionalism and a seriousness in the most serious of all sports; those in which human beings fight.
But there’s always those exceptions as anyone who witnessed actor Jack Black flipping around in the comedy Nacho Libre can attest. Some people have a way with words, some with numbers and some with the opposite (or the same, nowadays) sex. Some folks, despite being limited in the genetics department, are blessed with surprising athleticism and Arreola just happens to be one of those guys. Unless he hits the weights full -time, he’ll never look any different than he does right now.
But really, it’s no revelation in boxing that some of it’s least intimidating fighters were among the most successful. James Toney and Roberto Duran (in his later years) were often mushy around the middle. Juan Diaz is soft-looking and devoid of any real muscle definition. Joe Calzaghe was skinny, pasty and looked more like a member of a forgotten British new-wave band from the 80’s than top-flight fighter.
Corrie Sanders was shaped like a pear but fought like a bear against both Klitschkos. So while Arreola isn’t going to stick out (in a good way) walking along the beach with no shirt, it should have no bearing on his dedication to the sport.
Misconception #5: There were more deserving contenders for Klitschko. Like who?
Unlike most Americans, I actually like David Haye and think that by fighting Nicolay Valuev first, made the right move. Now I’ll admit that he went about it the wrong way but by facing the Giant Russian first, will give himself the best chance of winning a title ( or bargaining chip if the WBA title is even worth that) and adapting to his new weight class.
Haye just wasn’t ready for either Klitschko and I think he knew it. Arreola has been prolific as a heavyweight, competing on HBO, Showtime and ESPN. He’s been winning and doing so impressively, against fellow prospects. His victories have been more emphatic than men like Alex Povetkin and Eddie Chambers have been able to generate because they’re ending in clean knockouts. His mentality is refreshing in a land of technicians.
And maybe most importantly, he’s bringing in a huge fan base that would not normally pay much attention to the heavyweights. This fight has put the division back in the news and that’s undeniable, even to his harshest critics.
Arreola is substance for sure; a fighter who will undoubtedly bring his best effort which cannot be said for some of Vitali’s latest opponents who seemed to lack serious confidence or momentum. HBO knows that Chris is exciting, capable and on the verge of becoming a real cross-over star.
Vitali Klitschko should be favored to win this fight; his experience and accomplishments have earned it. He’s a tough man and intelligent enough to prepare for the most difficult scenario which I suspect it may turn out to be. But as is the case with any title-fight challenger given little chance, there’s a real intrigue. Chris Arreola doesn’t know what he’s up against but that does not necessarily discount his chances. He may find that the anxiety of the event pushes him harder than he has ever been pushed before and if we’re lucky, he’ll embrace the novelty. I can’t wait to find out.
previous article: Exclusive Interview with New Zealand promoter Craig Thomson
next article: Wuestenbergh in a losing fight to Yohan Duhaupas