Both former world heavyweight title challengers Chris Arreola and Tony Thompson scored impressive stoppage wins on Saturday night in Atlantic City. And later on in the evening at the post-fight press conference, the pair of Goossen-promoted contenders exchanged semi-heated words.
I got a sense of what was coming while interviewing Thompson in the hallway, minutes before the conference officially started. The Tiger expressed his interest to get back into contention for a second world title opportunity, and indicated he would definitely be up to challenge Arreola.
Then in the conference room at the dais, Thompson seemed to start the conflict but was not overly aggressive or confrontational in any way. Conducting himself like a sportsman, he merely stated, while never turning his head to his right to make eye contact with Arreola, “When I hear talk of who is the best American heavyweight, I never hear my name.”
Seated on the opposite side of the dais, Arreola interpreted those words as a direct challenge and replied immediately. “I’m better.”
Thompson then said he would like to fight Arreola if “HBO was willing to put up their baby.”
Then Arreola became somewhat heated and started to show his edge, mentioning he did better in his shot vs. a Klitschko by not getting put to sleep by Vitali. Thompson said that he had a knee injury which affected his performance against Wladimir but proudly added he fought “that monster on one leg.”
A member of Thompson’s team began to heckle Arreola, from the audienc, almost seeming to challenge The Nightmare himself, but his words rang hollow. Arreola did not get drawn into the silly argument with the third row, ordinary Joe-looking heckler who didn’t even resemble a boxer.
Arreola kept his cool and showed maturity by saying, “I never call anybody out. I’d love to fight Tony Thompson. I respect him as a man and a fighter. I respect him and his family. If he wants to fight me – I never duck anybody.”
That statement just about ended the matter. But a few minutes later when Arreola got up to leave the dais, to give the spotlight to the arriving Sergio Martinez, Arreola went over to the still sitting Thompson, shook hands and gave him a man hug.
Dan Goossen did not appear excited at the idea of matching his pair of top 10 heavyweight contenders.