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Chris Arreola: “This Is A Do Or Die Fight For Me.”

By Sean Crose

“I’m very desperate, you know,” said heavyweight contender Chris Arreola during a media conference call on Tuesday. “I’ve done a lot of dumb shit in my life and it’s time to man up.”

Photo: Hogan Photos/Golden Boy

There’s no two ways about it, Arreola is a fascinating guy. Blunt is probably the best word to describe this man, who’s about to rematch Bermane Steverne for the WBC heavyweight title on May 10th. His fighting style is blunt. His speech is blunt. Heck, even his self assessments are blunt.

“I believed too much in myself and my God given talent,” Arreola said, referring to his time spent squandering opportunities in and out of the ring. Indeed, Arreola has not historically been the most dedicated of fighters. Sure, he’s always been tough, but you need to be more than tough in order to be the best in the ring.

Still, the man sounds like reality has finally hit him, that he’s finally ready to make the change. “It’s just time for me to man up and do what I’m supposed to do as a man,” he said, “work hard.”

Trainer Henry Ramirez feels that his fighter has indeed matured. “This camp is going according to plan,” Ramirez claimed during the call. “I don’t have to sit at the gym and wonder, damn, is he going to show up today?”

Arreola may have finally gotten his reality check last year, when he lost to Steverne in their first fight. Arreola, after all, was the guy with the experience, the guy who had battled no less eminent an adversary than Vitali Klitschko himself. Yet Arreola still showed up for the bout overweight, got his nose broken and subsequently lost a decision.

What made the whole thing even more ironic was the fact that Arreola was winning the bout at first. In the third round, however, things went south. “I was making sure I was on him,” Arreola said to me during the call, recalling his good start that night.

So what happened? How did he end up getting dropped in the third? How did he end up with a busted nose? “I threw a lazy jab,” Arreola told me forthrightly, “I got lazy in that fight.”

Sometimes, believe it or not, it’s actually good to hear such words – and it was good hearing them on Tuesday. For Arreola definitely needs to be honest with himself at this point in his career. The second fight with Steverne may well be his last chance to reach Olympus, after all.

“I’m in the sport to be a champion, not a paycheck fighter,” Arreola claimed. “I can’t lose this fight. I won’t.” This new-found determination has not gone unnoticed by those who have seen him preparing for May 10th. “He’s training,” Ramirez said, “like a desperate man right now.”

“I’m willing to go through hell to win a fight,” the freshly focused Arreola boasted, slyly adding that: “I don’t know if he is.” The “he” Arreola referred to, of course, is Bermane Steverne, the man who polished Arreola off the last time around.

During their last showdown, Arreola was the one who ultimately proved to be the less dedicated fighter. Now he’s questioning the staying power of his foe. “We’re going to see what Bermaine’s willing to go through,” Arreola stated.

That much is true. Yet Steverne, for his own part, came across during the conference call as a very serious individual indeed. “Whatever I did in the first fight,” he promised the media, “I will do it better – way better.”

Is Arreola ready? Is he truly prepared to earn the right to be called heavyweight champion of the world? “I have three loses,” he exclaimed. “This could be my very last shot and I’m not going to take this shot for granted. I’m not going to f–k this shot up.”

And neither is Steverne. Get ready for war.

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