LOS ANGELES, CA — An increased Chris Arreola workrate and smarter overall strategy was not enough to overcome a patient Bermane Stiverne, who bided his time to land a massive right hook that resulted in two knockdowns and an eventual sixth round TKO to capture the WBC heavyweight title at the USC Galen Center.
A MARATHON OVER A SPRINT: It was lost on no one who watched the bout that the counter right that started Arreola’s downfall was the same punch Stiverne used to score the only knockdown of their first bout. From round one, Arreola made a concerted effort to alternate between driving Stiverne to the ropes with power shots, and then forcing him to come forward by fighting off the backfoot. This succeeded in giving Stiverne different looks, but Arreola never look comfortable or was particularly effective fighting backwards.
Arreola did his best work in the second and third rounds. He stunned Stiverne with good rights, especially straight shots that split Stiverne’s guard on the ropes. However, the potency of Stiverne’s counter shots always had Arreola guessing about when to pause his attack, giving the Haitian fighter opportunities to pop Arreola downstairs with digging hooks. It would be one such pause off a tentative left hand that allowed Stiverne to counter with a looping right hook that destroyed Arreola’s equilibrium.
EXTRA TIME NOT ENOUGH: From the video packages, it was clear ESPN favored Arreola’s more expressive personality in selling this fight. Arreola also had the benefit of smaller ring and got extra time after each knockdown from referee JAck Reiss. In the end, it was for naught as Stiverne’s counters were too precise and powerful.
IF NOT WLADIMIR, HOW ABOUT WILDER-STIVERNE?: Division kingpin Wladimir Klitschko has made it clear he wants the winner of this fight to unify the entire division. But with Don King back in the title picture via his man Stiverne, the veteran promoter might not be so quick to risk the belt against Wlad. That leaves Deontay Wilder, who was sitting ringside and is ranked #3 by the WBC. Despite his lack of credible opponents, Wilder’s massive versus Stiverne’s skillful countering would make for an excellent and intriguing style contrast.
ARREOLA’S FUTURE: A dejected Chris Arreola was emphatic is stating he wasn’t retiring, calling this fight proof that “he’s back” and focused on making a mark in the division. By this point, it should be clear that Arreola isn’t a an elite fighter, but his style will keep him in the Top 10 mix for at least the next 1-2 years if he remains committed.[youtube http://youtu.be/U2dGYhpAZPw]