American heavyweight contender Chris Arreola is promising boxing fans that he has rediscovered his passion for the sweet science.
Arreola has been the brunt of much deserved criticism for his history of listless training habits. That laziness resulted in Arreola being in abysmal physical condition in some of his biggest fights.
Despite big backing from HBO, Chris Arrerola fell short in his most high-profile fights to WBC titlist Vitali Klitschko and contender Tomasz Adamek. His failure was likely a contributing factor in HBO’s abrupt announcement last month that they would no longer carry any heavyweight fight due to “lack of interest” from the public.
In an apparent case of “too much too soon,” Arreola explained that his focus now is re-establishing good boxing fundamentals. He feels that weakness was exploited against his recent elite opponents.
“I feel like I have to get back in the gym and get back to the basics. I did a lot of bad stuff in my previous training and it’s time for me to get back to work and get that hunger back,” he said on ESPN’s Friday Night Fights show. “I want to get back in the title picture and prove the naysayers wrong again…I’m not gonna lie, I shot myself in the foot. The hunger was missing in myself. I didn’t want it as bad as other people wanted it for me. Now I want it even more.”
Arreola was 27-0 when he faced Vitali Klitschko last September. Round after round, Arreola would plow forward looking to land a home run shot while Klitschko peppered him with jabs and right hands. The one-sided beating was stopped in the 10th, causing the proud Mexican-American to break down in tears and promise a glorious comeback.
Looking back, Arreola points to ring adaptability as the biggest lesson he learned from the loss.
“I’ve always been told you never turn down a title fight because you never know when you’re going to get a title shot again. Personally I’m glad I got it and I learned a lot from it,” he said. “And I learned a lot from losing to Adamek. Everything happens for a reason and I’m glad for that opportunity. With Klitschko you’ve got to respect the man. A lot of people say he’s too big and slow, but that’s his fight and style. He came in there with a game plan and executed….I learned that you have to adapt if it’s not working. One thing he did well is that he knew how to adapt to my style.”
On his last fight, a majority decision loss to Tomasz Adamek in April, Chris Arreola is more reserved in his assessment of his Polish conqueror.
“With Adamek my respect goes out to him, but I didn’t go out there fully prepared,” Arreola explained. “I was full of myself and I didn’t think I have to train like I had to. But he did and my hat goes off to him. He beat me and now I know how to come to a fight fully trained and prepared.”
Next Friday (August 13) Arreola will get a chance to prove how seriously he’s taken his latest training camp against Manuel Quezada (28-2, 25 KOs) on ESPN2. Arreola didn’t disclose his weight, but assured his fans that he’s in shape and focused completely on boxing.
“The main thing is that I’m in shape,” he stated. “I’ve only missed two days of gym, and that’s because my house almost caught fire and the other because it was my brother’s birthday. Other than that I haven’t missed one day. I’m rededicated to the boxing game. Boxing is a jealous sport; if you don’t treat it good it’s going to turn around and slap you in the face.”
Chris Arreola is going to have to do a lot to reestablish credibility with the boxing public.
It’s no secret that the heavyweight division is in shambles. Contract squabbles and other behind the scenes nonsense have prevented the Klitschkos from facing their best possible challenges in David Haye, Tomasz Adamek and Alexander Povetkin. The rest of the heavyweight Top 10 is a wasteland of past prime and already beaten title challengers. In other words, the heavyweight division continues to be wide open for an American that is focused, talented and ready to meet the challenge.
I don’t believe Chris Arreola is that heavyweight. He had that chance with HBO. They, like Arreola himself, fell in love with his power and pushed him to be the next big thing. All he did with it is come into fights grossly out of shape multiple times with the same post-fight interview comments that it would be the last time. To me, Chris Arreola is the epitome of the American heavyweight today; men with talent but no drive to exploit it to its highest potential.
Make no mistake, being in shape and focused does not guarantee Chris Arreola will become a champion. But it would earn him the respect and fan following HBO has tried in vain to find for him over the last two years. Heavyweight Jerry Quarry is considered one of the best fighters never to win the title. Earnie Shavers is still remembered fondly for his losing title efforts against Muhammad Ali and Larry Holmes. Why? Because even though both men had limitations that prevented them for being great, they always gave their all in the ring. You got a 110% effort every time, and that is something any true fan will appreciate and respect.
Until Chris Arreola does that on a consistent basis, his word will continue to ring hollow no matter how many colorful expletives are thrown in.