by David P. Greisman
It’s been nearly two years since Chris Arreola’s last big fight, a loss to Tomasz Adamek that sent him, by necessity, on the comeback trail. He’s fought and won six times since then, with the plan for his Feb. 18 bout against Eric Molina to make it seven.
Arreola, 34-2 with 29 knockouts, faces Molina (18-1, 14 KOs) on the undercard to Paul Williams vs. Nobuhiro Ishida.
Arreola’s trainer, Henry Ramirez, believes this should be the last comeback bout and that the big fights should come next. Ramirez recently spoke with BoxingScene.com about Arreola-Molina, whom Arreola might target next, and how Arreola has changed since suffering his first two pro losses.
BoxingScene.com: What do you know about Eric Molina?
Ramirez: “I know he’s in big trouble on Feb. 18 [laughs]. I’ll be honest, I don’t know a lot about him. I have seen some video. He’s a tall, rangy guy, about 6-5. He’s got some knockouts, but I wouldn’t necessarily call him a knockout puncher because of the level of competition he’s faced. But hey, this is his big opportunity.
“Beyond all that, Chris is being Chris right now. He’s putting the work in, sparring hard and working hard. It spells trouble for Molina. When Chris is motivated and fully focused on the task at hand, there’s not a heavyweight in the world we won’t put Chris in and feel confident about him coming out with the win.”
BoxingScene.com: The fight will be televised on one of Showtime’s other networks, Showtime Extreme, but it seems like good news that he’ll be back on a major network.
Ramirez: “Exactly, but to be honest we’d much prefer to be part of the main telecast. There’s a difference in exposure. There’s a difference being one of the undercard fights on Showtime Extreme and being one of the televised fights on the actual Showtime telecast. And it would make sense since, to be honest, they’re selling this whole event on Chris over in Texas.”
BoxingScene.com: All three of the major heavyweight titleholders have fights set for these coming weeks. That seems like it could work out to your benefit considering that Chris is on the same timetable. With that in mind, do you want a title fight next after Molina?
Ramirez: “If the opportunity presents itself for Vitali or Wladimir, absolutely. I know Chris is chomping at the bit to get a big fight. We did the thing last year where we kind of took the step back and let him get his weight under control and show that he can be dedicated to the sport. Now we’re ready to take that jump.
“We’d hoped it would be a bigger fight for this fight, but it is what it is. We’re not looking past Molina, but Chris will take care of him on Feb. 18, and then we’re going to seek the biggest fight possible for us after that, whether that be a Klitschko fight or an Adamek rematch. Those are all things that will be in place.”
BoxingScene.com: Was the weight the only thing that needed to change after the fights with Vitali Klitschko or Tomasz Adamek, or were there technical things as well?
Ramirez: “There were some technical things, but all that goes to the weight and being there at the gym every day. Not only are you going to put on weight when you’re not at the gym, but you can’t work on the things that you need to. Let me tell you: Chris has far underrated ability. I read all the stuff where people call him a disgrace and just a slugger, and this and that, and that’s fine. But he’s far beyond that.
“He does have a high ring intelligence. I know people doubt it. I think the tattoos and the vulgar language at times give him a certain stereotype of a street thug, or this and that. He’s the furthest thing from it. He does have some underrated boxing skills. Is he going to win a stylistic boxing match with certain guys? No. But we’ve definitely been working with him on better balance, sitting down on his punches again, and really, really, really using a lot of head and waist movement.”
David P. Greisman is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Follow David on Twitter at twitter.com/fightingwords2 or on Facebook at facebook.com/fightingwordsboxing, or send questions and comments to [email protected]