By Sean Crose
Frederic Kassi (10-3) tried to make a name for himself in Texas on Saturday when he faced perennial heavyweight contender Chris Arreola (36-4) on a live CBS broadcast of Premiere Boxing Champions. The Mexican-American Arreola looked fit enough – for Arreola – and immediately took the fight Kassi, who fights out of New Orleans by way of Cameroon.
The first round consisted of some heavy punching and indicated an entertaining bout might be forthcoming. Arreola kept stalking as the fight progressed. He nailed his man hard in the third, but wasn’t looking as sharp as a man who may be in line for his third title shot (which Arreola reportedly was) should have. Indeed, by the end of the third it appeared that some solid body work from Kassi might work towards an upset.
Steve Farhood, the PBCs unofficial judge, had Kassi up “two rounds to one” by the fourth. Then, almost on cue, Arreola began landing. Hard. The man’s solid work continued into the fourth as Arreola thudded at Kassi’s body. But then Kassi started landing some impressive shots of his own.
By the midpoint it was a closer fight than some had expected. Arreola was indeed a skilled fighter – but he seemed to lack the energy needed to be at the top of his game. Whether past ring wars were responsible for this or not was uncertain. What was certain, however, was that Arreola was in a fight.
Arreola continued to pursue through the later rounds. He went to the body well at times, but the retreating Kasssi kept throwing. By the tenth, most of the PBC team clearly thought things were too close for comfort for Arreola. In short, it appeared to be anyone’s fight. It was truly a “now or never” scenario for the heavyweight mainstay.
Yet even the final chapter didn’t have the fireworks from Arreola it probably should have. Indeed, the fight ended in a majority draw. Even Arreola himself admitted that he didn’t look good enough for a title shot.
The main event featured Irish phenom Carl Frampton (14-0) as he engaged in a junior featherweight bout against Mexico’s unheralded Alejandro Gonzalez (25-1-2). It was supposed to be a huge American debut for Frampton, whose trunks and gloves looked like he’d be more at home fighting in Boston than in Texas. How surprising it was, then, when Gonzalez dropped his man twice in the first.
Frampton looked decent enough in the second. What’s more, Gonzalez was deducted a point for a low blow in the third. On top of that, Frampton started to appear sharp, landing on his man with laser like precision. Indeed, as the fight slipped into the middle rounds, Frampton calmed down and got into his comfort zone.
The prospect on an explosive American debut a thing of a past, Frampton relaxed, led with a jab and nailed his man over and over again in the face. Still, Gonzalez nailed Frampton clean at the end of the fifth. It remained a fight, though it was becoming more and more one sided in favor of the Irishman. By the midpoint of the bout, Frampton was eating up round after round.
And he continued to do so – with the exception of the ninth, where Gonzalez looked very sharp. In the end, it’s was Frampton’s day, as he deservedly fought his way to a unanimous decision win. Like Arreola, though, Frampton didn’t deliver as many had thought he would.
Ironically enough, however, that’s good news for the PBC. What was supposed to be a televised showcase card ended up providing viewers with a VERY good afternoon of boxing. It was entertaining viewing – and that’s good for the PBC, for the fans, and for the sport of boxing in general.