By Gautham Nagesh
Heavyweight contender Chris "Nightmare" Arreola (34-2, 29KOs) continued his run of good form with a third-round KO of Raphael Butler in Leon, Mexico, televised by ESPN Deportes. Arreola looked fit and focused while breaking down his game opponent, who rose from three knockdowns before finally relenting after the fourth. The end came a minute into the third round.
Arreola has won six bouts in an effort to work himself back into contention since losing a majority decision to Tomasz Adamek in April 2010. Against Butler he opened with a more measured approach, waiting for his foe to tip his hand before responding with heavy one-two combinations. After shoving Butler into the corner, Arreola landed a clean straight right, followed by a left hook that forced Butler to sink to his knees while the ref tolled the count.
The fighters traded uppercuts once action resumed, but Arreola was soon back in control, landing several big right hands. A series of right-left combinations followed by an downward right hand to the head sent Butler to the mat a second time before the end of the first.
He went down again in the second after trying to attack and receiving a counter-right to the chin in response. After the subsequent face-plant Butler decided to take the fight inside, where both men landed good shots. Butler took the brunt of it but managed to make the bell intact.
The third round saw Arreola begin to work the left with success; a strong uppercut follower by a left hook hurt Butler and forced him to the mat holding the back of his head. He rose at eight but didn't seem eager, as the ref waved the fight off.
Butler could be heard exclaiming "no, no, no," and then walked to his corner where he laid his forehead despondently on the ropes. Whether he was disappointed by his performance or an early stoppage was difficult to tell, but we would wager on the former.
The key with Arreola is always his physique and he looked good, though there was still some paunch to be seen. His style was slightly more refined ,but he also took some clean shots and his opponent hardly presented a challenge to a fighter of Arreola's talent.
Still, it would appear time for Chris to challenge himself against an actual contender to see if his improvement is real or an illusion.
In the televised co-feature, super featherweight Miguel "Mickey" Roman controlled Pedro Navarette to earn a unanimous decision in a 10-round bout that featured some good late action.
Roman (37-8, 28 KOs) was the busier and more accurate puncher throughout; he never looked bothered by Pedro's power. Navarette (26-15-3, 15 KOs) tried to box early and had some success, but he was caught on the ropes several times, where Roman punished his body.
Roman inexplicably let up on the pressure at times, but his flurries were enough to earn him a solid lead by the 7th. At that point, Navarette started standing his ground and throwing combinations. Defense was set aside as the fighters began trading leather freely. The body was the main focus of the attack for Roman, while Navarette began landing some good shots to Mickey's chin.
In the 8th, the punishment began taking a toll and the fight moved inside. Both men spent the night fighting in spurts, courteously avoiding counter-punching. Roman's greater precision continued, and Navarette struggled to keep up with the pace.
But Navarette seemed renewed in the 9th, by far the best round of the right. The terrific action saw one man unload his combinations, then the other, then both. Heavy shots turned both men's chins, though neither seemed in danger of going down.
By the closing stanza Roman was back in control. He continued applying the pressure and shrugging off the shots offered in response. Our Spanish is weak, but Roman justifiably won all three cards, and fairly comfortable by our count. We had Navarette winning at most three rounds. A nice appetizer featuring two game if limited combatants.
In the televised opener Irma Garcia earned her professional first win by securing a unanimous decision over Nashley Maldonado in a six-round female featherweight bout.