By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – Chris Arreola thought he would become the first boxer of Mexican descent to win a heavyweight title.
The veteran heavyweight had three cracks at the WBC title, yet lost each of those fights to Vitali Klitschko, Bermane Stiverne and Deontay Wilder. Now that Andy Ruiz Jr. has beaten him to that accomplishment, Arreola couldn’t be happier for his fellow Mexican-American from Southern California.
Arreola spoke glowingly of Ruiz after a press conference Tuesday for Arreola’s fight against Adam Kownacki on August 3 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn (FOX).
“Ruiz, I’ve gotta give him his credit, man, because he took full advantage of his opportunity,” Arreola told BoxingScene.com. “And now he’s a world champion. One day, he wanted to be like me. Now I wanna be like him.”
Arreola watched with pride as Ruiz dropped Anthony Joshua four times on his way to a seventh-round, technical-knockout victory June 1 at Madison Square Garden.
“I was very proud of him and happy for him,” Arreola said. “I had my shot three times, but I didn’t do it. He took full advantage of it. And you know what? I’m nothing but happy for him, him and his family, because he deserves it, man.”
England’s Joshua (22-1, 21 KOs) was a 25-1 favorite over Ruiz (33-1, 22 KOs) during fight week. Arreola suspects the former IBF/IBO/WBA/WBO champion looked past Ruiz because of Ruiz’s body type and because Ruiz lost to Joseph Parker in their fight for the then-vacant WBO title in December 2016.
“Let’s be honest – maybe Joshua did take him lightly, underestimated him once he found out who he was gonna fight,” Arreola said. “He looked at the picture and said, ‘Oh, this fat guy?’ But let’s back it up. [Ruiz] found out he was gonna fight Joshua a week and a half after he just fought, so he was ready. He was still peaking. It was a perfect storm for Ruiz to win.”
Arreola expects Joshua to take their immediate rematch more seriously, though he’s not sure that’ll matter.
“They say the rematch usually goes worse,” Arreola said, “so let’s hope it does go like that.”
The 38-year-old Arreola (38-5-1, 33 KOs, 2 NC), of Riverside, California, hopes to re-establish his own credibility by beating Brooklyn’s Kownacki (19-0, 15 KOs) in their 12-rounder August 3. Their fight will headline a “PBC On FOX” tripleheader.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.