By John Gabriel Thompson: Less than two weeks after knocking out Nagy Aguilera the third round, Chris “The Nightmare” Arreola (32-2, 28 KO’s) was back in the ring knocking out heavyweights, this time stopping Kendrick “The Apostle” Releford (22-15-2, 10 KO’s) in the seventh. Also in action at the Reno Events Center in Reno, Nevada Tony “The Tiger” Thompson (36-2, 24 KO’s) stopped Maurice “Mo Bettah” Harris (24-15-2, 10 KO’s) in the third round on ESPN2’s Friday Night Fights series.
Harris had also beat Nagy Aguilera, actually in his last fight (one of four straight wins), though the most impressive names on his resume (Larry Holmes, Fres Oquendo, and Chris Byrd) were all losses. The D.C. native Thompson also has four straight wins (all by stoppage) since his eleventh round knockout loss at the hands of Wladamir Klitschko for a slew of heavyweight titles back in 2008. The two actually have some history, as Thompson lost to Harris in an unofficial heavyweight tournament for a reported prize of $100,000 back in 2002.
The action was not overwhelming, but Thompson took control of the “rematch” in the second round, backing up Harris and landing constant shots to his head. Thompson’s punches did not look very quick or ferocious, but powerful, and Harris went down once in the second, more from the accumulation of punches than any single blow. In the third, the left-handed Thompson landed a good overhand right to the chin and Harris went down again. Harris got up quickly, but Thompson continued with his slow-motion haymakers. Harris tried to hold on and fell as Thompson stepped back. It looked as though Referee Vic Drakulich waved off the fight, but instead he ruled it a slip and let the action continue. The bout did not go for another ten seconds though, as Thompson landed some more hard shots to the head and Drakulich mercifully stepped in to stop the fight. This win sets up a showdown for Thompson with fellow American heavyweight Eddie Champers, and the winner of that match will get a shot at the heavyweight title against one of the Klitschko’s. Based on what I saw tonight, the fast hands of Eddie Chambers should favor him considerably over the slower hands of Tony Thompson.
From Riverside, California Chris Arreola is down to 236 pounds (having dropped about 30) and looks much trimmer for someone 6’4” than he had in recent bouts. Though to be fair to Arreola, a lot of the discussion of his weight seems more superficial than anything else; his bouts with Manuel Quezada, Tomasz Adamek, and Vitali Klitschko showed that Arreola had the stamina to go the distance (even if his corner threw in the towel against Klitschko). Arreola has won three straight (two by knockout) since his majority decision loss to Tomasz Adamek in April of last year. The former Fort Worth, Texas Golden Gloves champ Kendrick Releford had less than thirteen days notice and was coming off a loss last August to a fighter with a record of 2-0.
Arreola started patiently in the first round, only throwing bombs after he had backed Releford to a corner. Releford, to his credit, found a consistent home for his jab on Arreola’s chin through the first two or three rounds, though Arreola controlled the action with the harder, cleaner and more effective punches. Arreola never seemed rushed as he went upstairs and down. In the third round Arreola started landing with the right uppercut – some hard ones that spoke well of Releford’s chin. With twenty seconds left in the fifth round, Arreola split Releford’s guard with a powerful straight right. Arreola continued to throw bombs as Releford covered up. Ringside commentator Joe Tessitore said, “Releford is in a bit of trouble right now, trying to survive this round.”
The sixth round was all Arreola. As he landed a combination including a hard left uppercut, Releford looked hurt and took a couple steps back into a corner, then wisely took a knee to avoid further punishment and give himself a breather. Releford was up at the count of five, breathing heavily. Arreola landed another huge right uppercut, but Releford made it through the sixth. Arreola dominated the seventh as well, and with about twenty five seconds left in the round Arreola landed a left hook which seemed to hurt Releford. Releford covered up against the ropes and Referee Russell Mora did what Releford’s corner should have done in the sixth and stopped the bout.
In another televised undercard, Norwalk, CA native and 2008 Olympic competitor Javier Molina (7-0, 4 KO’s) also fought for the second time in just thirteen days – just like Arreola. Molina controlled the action from the start against David Lopez (3-6-3, 0 KO’s), putting Lopez down once in the first courtesy of a straight right, though their feet may have also been tangled. Molina dominated the action, though Lopez seemed to get some confidence by the fourth and there were some good exchanges in that round and the fifth. Molina won a unanimous decision with scores of 60-53, 59-54, and 59-54.