By Jackie Kallen
After last weekend’s crazy fight activity in Las Vegas, it will be a quieter Saturday night in LA when two heavyweight contenders vie for supremacy in their weight class. ESPN will bring us the match-up between Chris Arreola and Bermane Stiverne for the vacant WBC heavyweight belt.
This is a curious fight in some ways. Mostly because 23-1-1 Stiverne beat Arreola very convincingly a year ago by a wide margin. He knocked Arreola down in the bout and broke his nose. The fight wasn’t close at all.
Which is why it is a lucky break for Arreola that the WBC is allowing him a rematch. I’m sure it has something to do with his first round KO of Seth Mitchell last fall. But with styles being what they are, he will have had to have made some major adjustments in the past 13 months if he plans to beat Stiverne this time.
Boxing is such an exciting sport because a fan never knows for sure what we’re going to get. We expect a one-sided fight and get a close one. We expect a war and get a disappointing slapfest. We all have our opinions before the fight, but we sometimes ending up eating crow afterwards.
Thirty-three year old Arreola is a solid puncher who has stopped almost 80% of his opponents. That’s an impressive percentage. He has fallen short when he’s gotten in with the elite heavyweights like Klitschko and Adamek, but he has put together a nice 36-3 record and knows that this fight is an important one. He may not get another opportunity like this.
Arreola is an outspoken guy who readily admits that he has made his share of mistakes, He lists laziness as one of his faults and has worked hard to create a new work ethic. His win over Mitchell buoyed his spirits and gave him renewed confidence.
On the other hand, Stiverne does not seem to be looking at Arreola as much of a threat. He beat him so easily in their last fight that he probably views this as nothing more than a televised sparring session. His eye is on much bigger trophies: Guys likeTyson Fury, Deontay Wilder, and, of course, Klitschko.
The 35 year-old from Haiti knows that the clock is ticking. His time is right now if he’s going to make a serious play for dominance in the division. He has clawed his way to this position and has no intention of sliding back down a few notches.
This has the makings of a good fight if Arreola steps up and really gives it his all. He may have taken Stiverne lightly last year, but that is not the case now. He knows what Stiverne is capable of and he does not want a repeat performance.