By Jake Donovan
If boxing were a religion, then Chris Arreola would be classified as a born-again fighter.
The heavyweight contender is treating his May 10 rematch with Bermane Stiverne as the last chance to make something of his once promising career. There is plenty of motivation heading into the bout – avenging a loss, fighting for a vacant heavyweight title and attempting to become the first ever fighter of Mexican descent to claim championship status in the heavyweight division.
However, none of that is as important as simply wiping the slate clean and making amends for past missed opportunities.
“I’ve done a lot of dumb s*** in my life; it’s time to man up,” Arreola admits. “No more excuses – whether it’s in the gym, in the ring, in life in general. It’s time for me to man up and do what I’m supposed to do.”
For the past several weeks, Arreola has done nothing but train – his second straight training camp in which short cuts aren’t even being considered and that he’s being dictated to rather than telling his team how things will go.
Taking the reins in camp is longtime trainer and close, personal friend Henry Ramirez. The two have a unique bond not found among most boxers and trainers, but it’s been all business as Arreola’s team set up camp in San Diego to prepare for the upcoming title fight, which takes place at the USC Galen Center in Los Angeles, California.
“I have three losses. I’m not going to take this shot for granted,” Arreola promises. “I’m not going to f**** this shot up. This is a do-or-die fight for me.”
Arreola carried the same mentality into the ring prior to his 2nd round knockout of Seth Mitchell last September. The win was a much needed career rebuilder, having been dropped and dominated by Stiverne earlier in the year. The loss was as lopsided as was his lone title bid, where he suffered a 10th round knockout at the hands of then-heavyweight titlist Vitali Klitschko in Sept. ’09.
Barely seven months later, Arreola nearly flushed his career down the toilet, coming in ill-prepared for an eventual majority decision loss to Tomasz Adamek.
“That was the loss that always stung the most,” Ramirez once revealed when reassessing Arreola’s career as a whole. “A win there would’ve given us a second title shot, and Chris knows he blew it.”
The loss to Stiverne, which came a year ago, had many in the industry believing the Mexican-American transitioned from heavyweight hopeful to divisional gatekeeper. Such talk was a massive wake-up call for Arreola, who has historically shown up grossly out of shape but has spent far more time these days sculpting his muscles than devouring food.
“I'm not going to be a gatekeeper, I've always said that,” Arreola insists. “I'm in this sport to win. I want to be a world champion, not a paycheck fighter.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox