by David P. Greisman
In the span of seven months, Chris Arreola went from undefeated heavyweight contender to yet another big man who fell short in his big fights. He’d suffered his first loss in September 2009 by getting thoroughly beaten by Vitali Klitschko. And then he lost again in April 2010, this time dropping a majority decision against Tomasz Adamek.
It was a humbling experience for a fighter who’d been touted on HBO as the next big thing, an exciting American heavyweight on the fast track to prominence.
It was time to rebuild.
Arreola has fought and won six times since then, defeating Manuel Quezada, Joey Abell, Nagy Aguilera, Kendrick Releford, Friday Ahunanya and, as of earlier this month, Raphael Butler. At the same time, his weight, once as high as 263 pounds, has dropped considerably. He is now 30 years old, 34-2 with 29 knockouts.
Arreola’s trainer, Henry Ramirez, has been in his corner through it all. He spoke with BoxingScene.com about what they’ve done and where they now want to go.
BoxingScene.com: There’s been a whole lot of rebuilding. Where do you see Chris Arreola’s career right now?
Ramirez: “The plan for us for 2011 was to keep him as active as possible. We’ve accomplished that. Deal with the gain in weight. We’ve accomplished that. And now I think the goal for 2012 is to get him in the big fights, the meaningful fights.
“We’ve completed the rebuilding phase. We’ve completed the hard work. He’s shown us he wants to be committed and act like a professional. It’s our job – myself, [adviser] Al Haymon, [promoter] Dan Goossen – we owe him. We’ve got to get him in a big fight. Whether that means Wladimir Klitschko, whoever, we’ll see.”
BoxingScene.com: Is that his next fight, or does he still need a couple more fights before then?
Ramirez: “He just fought Nov. 5. We’re going to let things play out, see where we go from here. I can’t really say what our next move is. But I know we definitely got to put him in with something more meaningful, something bigger.
“We’ve completed the process of keeping him active. He fought five times this year. Just keeping him active, and keeping him in shape. He started the year weighing 249 for the Joey Abell fight, and every fight’s been under 240 except for the last one, which was at 240.”
BoxingScene.com: Is there anything he needs to improve on technically?
Ramirez: “Absolutely. Getting in position to do the jab, close the distance, moving his head, bending at the waist and getting back to putting his punches together. Chris isn’t really a one-punch knockout artist. He’s more of an accumulation puncher. When he was at 255, 260, it was getting harder and harder to do that. But we’ve been training to focus him back on putting pressure, better balance, and being in tip-top shape.”
BoxingScene.com: Was there any frustration with the rebuilding being off HBO and Showtime, or was that perhaps a blessing in disguise?
Ramirez: “It was a blessing in disguise because he never would’ve fought five times in a year. We’re lucky if he gets two, sometimes three. It was a rebuilding process after the Tomasz Adamek loss. That’s the loss that hurt him. It wasn’t so much the Vitali Klitschko fight. Losing to Tomasz Aadamek is the fight that set us back.
“Whatever the case was, we lost. He knew he went into that fight less than 75 percent. But those are the choices he made. Chris used to choose not to come in top-top shape … the only change was him deciding, ‘You know what, I need to act like a professional.’ ”
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]