By Jake Donovan
Jonathan Arrellano knows the role he’s expected to play in tonight’s ESPN2-televised showdown versus Rico Ramos. It doesn’t mean he has any intention of following the script.
“I understand the business,” Arrellano (14-2-2, 3KO) comments. “Coming into a fight as the underdog or the opponent you have to be ready for anything. If it’s a close round, the judges will give it to the guy who’s favored. My job for (tonight) is to win every round – and the fight – in spectacular fashion.”
The California-based super bantamweight endured rough waters in his past several fights but is better from the experience. His lone two losses came in back-to-back fights with unbeaten prospects Roman Morales and Jessie Magdaleno, with an eight-round draw versus Juan Reyes in his very next fight resulting in a three-fight winless streak.
Arrellano learned to grow from the challenges, never mind the firm belief that he was robbed in the aforementioned even verdict with Reyes. That fight was the starting point of a renewed dedication to the sport, carrying over into a strong performance in a win over Charles Huerta, even if having to settle for a majority decision.
“The judges know the lane they are supposed to stay in,” Arrellano quips. “But I’ve learned that you can’t leave it up to the judges. I’m not just talking about knockouts (Arrellano only has 3 in 18 professional contests); but leaving no doubt every three minutes. The performance I had in my last fight against Huerta opened the doors for fights like (tonight).”
Ramos (22-3, 12KO) represents the first fighter of championship pedigree (past, present or future) to appear on Arrellano’s résumé. It hasn’t been the greatest of times for the former 122 lb. titlist, whose three losses came in a four-fight stretch before bouncing back with a stoppage win over previously unbeaten Carlos Ivan Velasquez last September, a fight in which he had to climb off the canvas to win.
On paper, tonight’s fight is designed as a showcase for Ramos, in a chief supporting bout to a light heavyweight affair between Thomas Williams Jr. and Cornelius White. Ramos and Williams Jr. are both advised by boxing powerbroker Al Haymon.
“None of those things can help him once I start throwing punches,” Arrellano confidently states. “I’ve never been too high on Rico. His name will look good on my résumé. I don’t know what he’s expecting from me; he’s probably seen earlier videos and expects me to box, thinking it will be an easy chess match.
“But I fight different now. To me, half of the victory is when the fans get their money’s worth. With a crowd-pleasing performance, it means taking a punch to give a punch. I’m coming to fight, not to box. Rico is the type of the fighter where, if you allow him to box, he will outbox you. When it comes time to bite down and go full throttle, I don’t think he has that in him.”
Helping Arrellano prepare for this opportunity was the fighter remaining surrounded by better company. The Ontario (Calif.) native is guided by trainer Henry Ramirez, also the chief second for top contenders Chris Arreolla and Josesito Lopez.
“Henry Ramirez is a great person,” Arrellano says of the effective – and blunt - trainer. “He will keep it real with you 100%. If I’m slacking, he will tell me what’s up. Then we go forward and work on whatever problem there is. A lot of people in boxing bulls**** you. Henry is the complete opposite. He represents what boxing should be. Boxing people should be more like him.
“Josesito has evolved into a world class fighter. He’s more aggressive and stronger. Chris is on another level. He’s destined to be a heavyweight world champion. Being with the in that camp is amazing. I learn more every day. I can tune into that fighter mentality. That’s helped me the past couple of years.”
Tonight, the super bantamweight gatekeeper knows he’s largely on his own, save for his corner in between rounds. But once the opening bell sounds, the same can be said of his opponent, the way he sees it.
“As long as you step into the ring and have your gloves laced up, it’s a coin toss,” Arrellano believes. “It’s about who has the most heart, who is willing to take the most to give back. I’m where I’m supposed to be. It’s my time. I’m ready to go to work.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as the Records Keeper for the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and a member of Boxing Writers Association of America . Twitter: @JakeNDaBox