Boxing

Heavyweight Healing: Can Chris Arreola Jumpstart The Heavyweight Division?

Klitschko vs arreolaBy Mike Samuels - This Saturday night Chris “The Nightmare” Arreola (27-0, 24 KO’s) has a chance to revive the ever lagging heavyweight division if he can somehow walk-down Vitali Klitschko (37-2, 36 KO’s) in front of what is expected to be a massive crowd from the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.

If successful Arreola will become the first Mexican-American to put the heavyweight championship around his mid section, assuming there are enough notches in the belt, of course.

Since the heavyweight title bout was announced some months ago, speculation had been that the Riverside native had failed to take yet another training camp seriously. Those rumors have since been silenced by Arreola’s camp in a series of press releases and interviews that were released earlier this week..

Don’t, however, expect Arreola to look like Lee Haney when he steps on the scales tomorrow at the official weigh in.
That’s not his style and it’s not what has gotten him in the position to challenge for a heavyweight title. So why change now? Sometimes if you live by the sword you die by the sword. It’s a common cliché’ but it rings ever-so-true when it comes to the way Arreola fights. He’s a no-nonsense brawler with halfway decent boxing skills and most importantly, the kid punches in combination, even displaying the fluid motion of a super middleweight at times in his career.

The big gripe with the Klitschko brothers over the last decade has been the fact that very few current heavyweights have ever challenged the two brothers from Ukraine. Outside of a few rough spots against Lennox Lewis and Corrie Sanders, when’s the last time you ever saw Dr. Iron fist in serious trouble?

Going back to 2003, the combined record of the last five opponents to step in to the ring with Vitali Klitschko is 219-10 with an astounding 180 knockouts. Yet outside of an aging Lennox Lewis, Kirk Johnson, Corrie Sanders, Danny Williams, Samuel Peter and Juan Carlos Gomez were rarely able to win a round against the champion.

Obviously that resume doesn’t bring to mind murderer’s row, but it’s all the heavyweight division has been able to produce at no fault of Vitali Klitschko.

Arreola has a chance to change all of that. He doesn’t have any big wins on his resume but plenty of questionable moments. Many people have questioned his experience, including Vitali Klitschko, and therefore the wide spread belief is that Arreola has no chance to shock the world.

“I don’t see it happening,” says Rolando Velasquez, a boxing enthusiast from Philadelphia. “Look, we all heard the same thing with [Francisco] Bojado a couple of years back. This kid was supposed to be Oscar De la Hoya all over again and as soon as he was challenged he folded like a wet paper bag.

“I don’t know what it is, probably the fact that America is desperately searching for a heavyweight champion. The Klitschko’s have dominated for so long people are starting to get bored with it.”

Regardless of the numbers or opinions or even past history, Arreola can do two things very well that may prove to pose a big problem for the elder Klitschko.

He brings relentless, but calculated pressure to each fight. He’s not just going to run in with his head up and throw wild haymakers with his eyes closed, hoping that he can get lucky and land something. He will move and feint and throw quick combinations for a man of his size and stature.

Most fighters understand they don’t have much of a shot against the 6’7 1/2’’ Klitschko before the bell rings.
“Everyone has a plan to knock [Klitschko] out,” explains Velasquez, “but it goes out the window the minute he starts throwing that hammer-like jab for a few rounds. I’m not saying Arreola can’t win because anything is possible … but I would be surprised.”

Arreola also packs quite a punch as evidence by his 24 KO’s in 27 pro bouts. But don’t just look at the KO percentage and be hesitant because of the level of opposition. If you’ve seen Arreola punch you’ve witnessed firsthand as the facial expressions of his opponents change at the moment of impact, usually followed by momentary paralysis of the legs – more commonly referred to as “jello legs.”

If he can get inside things could get interesting in a hurry.

Klitschko is one cool customer. He has come back after fighting injuries over the last four years to look like he never missed a beat in disposing Sam Peter and Juan Carlos Gomez earlier this year. He’s a great man of pride and he values his family like everyone should. He’s a model citizen for the sport of boxing, most notably the heavyweight division, which is a vast contrast to past champions like Muhammad Ali, George Foreman, Riddick Bowe and Mike Tyson.

They all brought controversy. They all provided an awe factor when they stepped between the ropes. Klitschko comes at us with varied cliché’s and a robotic style that consists of a great jab and a powerful overhand right. As uninspiring and plain as it is, the formula has made Klitschko a successful champion.

Saturday night Chris Arreola will step between the ropes with the weight of a country on his shoulders and a formula questioned by many who have seen it all before. Arreola has promised to be different.
Here’s to hoping he’s exciting.

MOSLEY-MAYWEATHER: Boxing has had a week to cool down from Shane Mosely’s antics during Floyd Mayweather’s post fight interview with Max Kellerman. Look, I don’t have a problem with guys calling other fighters out. It’s good for the sport. That being said, there’s a time and a place for those things to happen. If Mayweather interrupted Mosely he would be getting the third-degree by the press and would probably be described as acting “ghetto.” If Shane wants to rile up Floyd in hopes of securing a payday I suggest he does it by himself next time.

UFC VS. BOXING: It has yet to be confirmed, but odds are the Mayweather-Marquez PPV has done somewhere around 800,000 buys with the potential for more. I haven’t seen the UFC numbers, but regardless these numbers show a victory for boxing. If a ‘boring’ fighter who ‘runs’ can come back after 2 years against the lightweight champion in a non-title welterweight bout and put up those kind of numbers … well, case closed. Boxing is far from dead. Even if Dana White tries to tell you differently.

Mike.samuels@comcast.net

Article posted on 22.09.2009



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