By Robert Morales
Wearing a form-fitting t-shirt, Chris Arreola almost looked svelte Tuesday at a workout in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. Perhaps that's why his promoter, Dan Goossen, is more excited about Arreola than he has been in a long time.
Arreola admittedly has had a history of poor training habits. It's something that has been written about again and again. But the way Arreola looked, and the confidence he is now exuding, is worth taking notice.
Heck, Goossen is so stoked, he spoke in perhaps exaggerated tones about his fighter who a week from Saturday - April 27 - will take on Bermane Stiverne (22-1-1, 20 KOs) in a heavyweight title elimination bout at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, Calif. (on HBO).
"I was talking to the guys with HBO today about it," Goossen said. "I was saying that he's a guy that single-handedly can bring the excitement back into the heavyweight division. Why? Because he's got all the elements that Mike Tyson had, OK? You wanted to see a Tyson fight to see how he could destroy someone, and Arreola's that type of fighter.
"You know you're not going to see him jabbing and countering. He's going to go out there and just look to fight hard. He's going to look to go out there and knock you out. That's what the fans want to see. That's what gets their juices going."
Goossen said Tyson was such an attraction, fans didn't even care who he fought; they still wanted to see him.
"And I believe that's where we're going to see Chris Arreola because he's got that aggressive, exciting, knockout style-attitude in the ring that the fans desperately want in the heavyweight division," Goossen said.
Then there are the respective dispositions of the Tyson and Arreola.
"And then you throw in the other side of the coin, where Tyson had that personality where you never knew what was coming out of his mouth, and say some outrageous things," Goossen said. "Well, you never know what's going to come out of Chris' mouth; he also says outrageous things.
"You've got a very similar parallel to those two guys and I just believe now Chris has that state of maturity that he knows he's gotta look like this to be able to compete with anybody in the heavyweight division."
So, what about it, Chris?
As Arreola sat on the ring apron at Warzone Boxing Club, he was told about Goossen's analogy. He didn't comment directly on the Tyson comparison, but he did say he believes he is now in the right frame of mind to be all he can be.
"Yes, absolutely," Arreola said.
Arreola, of Riverside, Calif., said that before people would tell him he good he could be, but he said he never got what they were talking about.
"I didn't need no cheerleader, I needed to be my own cheerleader," he said. "And I wasn't mature enough to understand what everybody was seeing in me. I would think, honestly, 'What do they see in me? What am I missing? Am I missing something they're seeing and I'm not?'
"I would always say, 'All right, whatever.' Now I see it and I know it. I watch fights all the time and say, 'Oh, that guy can't do that, and I can.' I'm a heavyweight that can move, I'm a heavyweight that can throw combinations."
Arreola said now is the time to step up to the plate and make his supporters' prognostications bear fruit.
"There is no down time," he said. "Nowadays, I'm always doing something. Even if I'm with my wife, we go out and just take a walk or go play some basketball. I'm always doing something because I know my youth is not so much youth because I'm already 32.
"But I'm still young and I need to do it while I can."
Arreola harkened back to his challenge to heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko in September 2009 to illustrate just how foolish he was. Arreola was embarrassingly flabby, and he was stopped after 10 rounds while trying to become the first heavyweight champion of Mexican descent.
"Back then, I used to think that my s**t didn't stink," Arreola said. "I used to think, 'I'll just work out as much as I want to and I'll be OK with this fight.'
And, 'It's OK, I'll go eat at (expletive) McDonald's for a whole week straight and it's all right.' No, it's not all right because I'm going to have to pay for it when I go into training camp.
"Like when I went into training camp for Klitschko, I came in at 295 pounds to weigh in at 251. That's basically 45 pounds that I lost in a month, five weeks. That's horrible, that's (expletive) stupid. And I look back on it and I'm like, 'How stupid was I? How stupid is that?' So now my head's on my shoulders correctly and I've gotta make sure that I prove not only to the fans, but to myself, that I am what I am."
Goossen, Arreola beef about Rigondeaux's work
Guillermo Rigondeaux won a decision over Nonito Donaire in a super bantamweight title unification fight this past Saturday at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. Rigondeaux fought a very defensive fight, resulting in a chorus of boos from those attending. It also caused his promoter, Bob Arum, to dole out some criticism about his fighter.
Arum intimated to BoxingScene.com that Rigondeaux is going to be difficult to promote moving forward because Rigondeaux's running "makes it not a watchable fight. I have to look for somebody to buy the fights. It's not a very pleasing style. He's a very good fighter, but it's not a pleasing style. This kid is one of the best defensive fighters that I've seen, but does it sell tickets?"
Therein lies the key. It seems more and more fans are looking for tough, hard-hitting fights. When they don't get them, they boo, as they did Rigondeaux.
"Boxing has changed a lot through the last 20, 30, 40 years," Goossen said. "A style like Rigondeaux's would have gotten a lot of applause and accolades 30 years ago, OK?Because it's a science and he does it very, very well. But in today's world, fans are more discerning and not as forgiving and not as patient. They want to see knockdown, drag-outs if they can.
"And from that aspect, I think a lot of fighters recognize that as they go along because I don't care what he (Rigondeaux) said after the fight, no one likes to hear boos."
Goossen then came with a comment that really had great meaning.
"And it's one thing saying you won, but it's another thing saying that you won the crowd," Goossen said. "And you've gotta be able to do both sometimes. Not that you've gotta go out there and stick your chin out and throw caution to the wind. No, you don't have to do that.
"What you've gotta do is just throw more punches. If you're as good as Rigondeaux is, you're smart enough and good enough to be able to put yourself in a situation where you can throw more punches and still accomplish what you want to from the defensive end."
Arreola praised Rigondeaux's technical skills. But like Goossen, he said it's not really for him.
"It's the sweet science," Arreola said. "That's what he was doing. But he was doing science with a lot of defense. I'm a boxer, but I'm a boxing fan. If I pay to go in to watch a fight, I'm paying for a fight, to watch somebody beat the s**t out of somebody. Rigondeaux, yeah, he did good. But he could have done even better if he had sat down on more punches and did more damage to him.
"Then they (fans) would have appreciated it more, if he would have taken a little bit more risk."
Arreola was told of Arum's denunciation of Rigondeaux, and he agreed that was not a good thing for the Cuban defector.
"No, it's not, it's not good for Rigondeaux at all," Arreola said. "Which means eventually they're going to have to sign him somewhere else. But Rigondeaux did what he had to do to win the fight and you can't take anything away from him."
But, Arreola said, Rigondeaux - a two-time Olympics gold-medal winner - fought an amateur style.
"He's done the Olympic boxing his whole life and that's how he treated that fight Saturday, as a 12-round Olympic boxing fight" Arreola said.
Schaefer not concerned Trout will take page from Rigondeaux
Austin Trout (26-0, 14 KOs) and Saul "Canelo" Alvarez (41-0-1, 30 KOs) will square off Saturday in a super welterweight title unification bout at the Alamodome in San Antonio (on Showtime). Since Trout is a southpaw and does not hit as hard as Alvarez, one has to wonder if we're going to see another Rigondeaux-Donaire, where Trout thinks defense first because he doesn't want to get into a slugfest with the likes of Alvarez.
The bout is being staged by Golden Boy Promotions. Its CEO, Richard Schaefer, is not troubled by that possibility.
"I'm not concerned about it at all because Trout is not a boring fighter," Schaefer said via telephone Wednesday from Las Vegas, where he helped play host to a
Floyd Mayweather Jr. workout. "The Cotto fight wasn't boring at all, so I'm not worried at all."
Trout won a wide decision over Miguel Cotto on Dec. 1 at Madison Square Garden.
Robert Morales covers boxing for the Los Angeles Daily News and BoxingScene.com.