By Sean Crose
We all know Chris Arreola’s a tough guy. A real tough guy. Being a tough guy, though, doesn’t mean you get to be heavyweight champion of the world. It just means you get to be tough. In order to earn that title, you have to be something…special. That’s true, even – or perhaps, especially – in this day and age.
The fact is that Arreola seems to have made a career our of disappointing people. Why? Because he hasn’t been in shape nearly as often as he should have been. And there’s simply no excuse for that. Not if you want to be the best. At the end of the day, it’s all about hard work. Being talented and hard boiled will always take a back seat to going through the daily grind. That’s something Arreola needed to learn years ago.
It seems, though, that he may have finally taken the hint. He looks in shape now for his rematch with Bermane Stiverne on Saturday for the WBCs slice of the heavyweight pie. What’s more, Arreola seems determined. Quite determined, actually. Could it be the Californian has finally made straight his own path? It’s safe to say most boxing fans would like to think so.
Still, Arreola needs more than the right conditioning and attitude if he wants to beat Stiverne on live television. He’s going to have to go for broke. He’s going to have to release his inner Marcos Maidana. Why? Because he gave Stiverne a good run last time but still came up short. After a few solid rounds, Arreola allowed Stiverne to assert himself. And it cost Arreola the bout.
This time, Arreola has to be relentless. He has to use his newly developed fitness to his maximum advantage. That means charging forward at all times. He may take some shots, but hey, he’s taken those before and fought on. This is, as many have said, the guy’s last chance at greatness.
What’s more, Stiverne is not the pushover many thought he would be the first time the two men met. And no matter how thin his resume was, he still proved he could beat Arreola. Make no mistake about it, the Canadian slugger will be going for broke on Saturday. Like Arreola, Stiverne knows how big an opportunity this is.
In short, it’s a pretty safe bet that this will be an entertaining fight. The first go round between Arreola and Stiverne was exciting. This one should be all out war. That’s good for ESPN, which will be showing the fight free for it’s millions of viewers, and it’s definitely good for boxing, which really needs more opportunities like the one being presented by ESPN. Think about it: even if the fight doesn’t draw in a large audience, it will whet people’s appetites for the sport if they find out afterward the bout was entertaining.
None of that will matter to Arreola if he loses, however. He’s lost a title shot one time already. Granted, that was against Vitali Klitschko, who history may just prove to be an all time great, but it really doesn’t make much difference. A fighter only gets so many opportunities, especially a fighter like Arreola, a man who’s wasted many opportunities throughout his career already.
And so he has to go at his opponent on Saturday like Maidana went at his a week earlier. Arreola needs to convince Stiverne, and the world, that he’s more than just a tough guy. He has to convince everyone that he’s actually lethal in the ring. If he does, the man still may have a bright future ahead of him. Who knows? Sometimes the late bloomer ends up being the one who blooms best.