By Jake Donovan
Bermane Stiverne and Chris Arreola have stepped it up a notch in training for Saturday's rematch at the USC Galen Center in Los Angeles, California.
With a vacant heavyweight title at stake, both fighters were far more physically fit than was the case when they met 13 months ago. Stiverne tipped the scales at 239.5 lb, while Arreola - whose conditioning has forever been his great hindrance - came in at 239 lb.
The bout headlines live on ESPN's flagship station (Saturday, ESPN, 8PM ET).
Stiverne (23-1-1, 20KO) is more than eight pounds lighter than when he scored a landslide decision over Arreola when they first met last April. The Haiti-born heavyweight - who has been based in Las Vegas for nearly 10 years since relocating from Canada - scored a 3rd round knockdown en route to a dominant win in their HBO-televised heavyweight eliminator.
The win was almost for naught, as Stiverne hasn't fought since. A title shot was to come versus Vitali Klitschko, who spent most of 2013 stalling before finally announcing his retirement to instead focus his time and energy on politics and combating civil unrest in his native Ukraine.
Arreola (36-3, 31KO) has fought just once since the loss, knocking out Seth Mitchell in two rounds. The Californian came in at a ripped 242 lb. for that fight, the results of time spent away from home while training in Phoenix. A similar approach was taken for this fight, as Arreola and trainer Henry Ramirez set up camp in San Diego. The efforts made in training showed up on the scales, as Arreola was eight pounds lighter than the fleshy 247 lb. frame he supported the first time he faced Stiverne.
The winner of Saturday's bout will make history of sorts in claiming the belt. Arreola is vying to become the first fighter of Mexican descent to claim a piece of the heavyweight crown, while a win by Stiverne will make him the first ever heavyweight titlist from Haiti.
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Eric Molina, 214.4 vs. DaVarryl Williams, 240.6
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Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox