By Lem Satterfield
ATLANTIC CITY -- It was nearly two years ago in December of 2009 that a 263-pound Chris Arreola stopped Brian Minto in the fourth round of their heavyweight bout at Atlantic City's Boardwalk Hall to rebound from the first setback of his professional career two months earlier -- a 10th-round knockout loss during a failed attempt to dethrone WBC king Vitali Klitschko.
On Saturday night, a much slimmer, 30-year-old Arreola (33-2, 28 knockouts) returned to Boardwalk Hall, this time, scoring his fifth straight win even as he failed to earn his fourth knockout during that run when he unanimously decisioned 39-year-old Ahunanya (24-8-3, 13 KOs) over 10 rounds at the Adrian Phillips Ballroom.
Judges Hilton Whitaker and Al Bennett scored it 99-91, and Don Givens had it 100--90 for Arreola, who weighed in at 236 pounds for Ahunanya in a victory marked the fifth time he has been in the ring during the past 11 months, as well as his fourth ring appearance of the year.
Arreola had won four consecutive fights, including three straight by stoppage, since losing the second bout of his career by majority decision in April of 2010 to Polish-born 34-year-old former light heavyweight and cruiser weight champion Tomasz Adamek (44-1, 28 KOs).
Adamek will challenge Vitali Klitschko (42-2, 39 KOs) on Sept. 10.
Arreola steadily and evenly pounded away at the head and body over the first six rounds against the mostly retreating but game Ahunanya, who, nevertheless, shook Arreola with a third-round right hand, left hook combination.
Arreola's overhand right hurt Ahananya in the seventh, but he couldn't finish off his brave rival despite landing a series of about 10 unanswered blows prior to the bell.
There was a similar sequence in the eighth round, during which a succession of punches by Arreola caused blood to drip from Ahunanya's nose.
A tough out, Ahunanya has been stopped just once in his career, in the fifth round by Lance Whitaker in April of 2004, and has gone the distance with Sergei Liakovich, Alexander Povetkin, Sultan Ibragimov and David Tua.
Following his loss to Adamek, Arreola returned the weighing 256 pounds for an August, 2010 unanimous decision over promotional stablemate, Manuel Quezada, whom Arreola floored twice in the ninth round and once more in the 12th.
While facing Quezada, it was determined thta Arreola had suffered a broken left hand and tendon damage in his right hand.
A rededicated, 249-pound Arreola returned to the ring, yet again, with January's first-round stoppage of Joey Abell, who had left the ring with a record of 27-5, with 26 knockouts, his seven-fight winning streak -- all of which had come by knockout -- being ended by Arreola.
Arreola tipped the scales at 251 against Vitali Klitschko and 250.5 opposite Adamek, but weighed 234, and, 236, respectively, for his past two fights before Ahunanya -- stoppages in the third and seventh rounds against Nagy Aguilera and Kendrick Releford on May 14 and 27.
Arreola's resurgence has captured the eye of Ukrainian WBO, WBA, IBF and IBO titlist Wladimir Klitschko (56-3, 39 KOs) and his trainer, Manny Steward, who have indicated that they would like to face Arreola as early as the fall.
"To me, it appears that Chris Arreola has matured, so I like him as an opponent for Wladimir," said Steward. "To me, Chris Arreola is a completely and totally different fighter than he was when he fought Vitali and when he fought Adamek."
Wladimir Klitschko is coming off of last weekend's unanimous decision that dethroned David Haye (25-2, 23 KOs).