By CARLOS ARIAS
LOS ANGELES --- Bermane Stiverne and Chris Arreola earned each other's respect after their rematch on Saturday night at USC's Galen Center on ESPN.
After five back-and-forth rounds with a number of heated exchanges, Stiverne knocked down Arreola twice before the fight was stopped at the 2:02 mark of the sixth round. Stiverne claimed the vacant WBC heavyweight title with the triumph.
"I really want to thank Chris and I hope he will continue his career because Chris is a bad man," Stiverne said. "I just beat Chris because I was smart. Chris came tonight with a vengeance. Chris hit me with all he got tonight. I can't take nothing away from Chris. Chris is a true warrior. I just hope that what I told you after the fight, I mean, I really mean it. Anything you want, I got your back. Like I said, I really mean that from the bottom of my heart."
Stiverne said he was patient and stuck to the game plan against Arreola.
"The game plan was the one thing about Chris is when he unloads punches is when you cornered against the ropes," Stiverne said. "So the plan was to let him get comfortable and then surprise him. I did that in the second round. He kept doing the same mistake on the ropes. In the fifth round or fourth round and the sixth round he did it two or three times. That's when I decided to throw the right hand."
Stiverne said he knew Arreola would bring out the best in him.
"I knew Chris is a tough customer," Stiverne said, "and he was going to bring me his best tonight, which he did. I mean, who knows? I might see him a couple of years from now. There's one thing --- when we fought the last time --- that really woke me up about Chris. When Bob Papa was interviewing him and he said to Bob Papa, 'Ain't no stopping me and some day I will see you again.' That kind of woke me up and I had this feeling that I would fight him again. He also said it would be a different fight. So throughout the camp I had to train and remember those words he said. Every day I was training harder and harder just because of what he said. When I signed to fight Chris, I had to train even harder than the first fight."
Stiverne said he was never hurt, but he did feel Arreola's punches.
"When I was on the ropes, I wanted to be on the ropes," Stiverne said. "Chris hit me with a body shot and it got my attention. That was a good body shot. When he hit me with the body shot, that's when I stayed in the middle of the ring and using my jab. And I started staying less and less on the ropes, because for some reason, I'm just giving the truth, he has more power than the last fight."
Stiverne had a bag of ice on his lip for most of the press conference until he took to the podium.
"He punched me on my lip," Stiverne said. "At first I thought it was a piece of food in between my teeth, but it was my skin. Like I said, the only shot that caught my attention, didn't hurt me, but I was like, 'Oh, I better,' that was the body shot."
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