By Jake Donovan
Chris Arreola came up miserably short in his third attempt at a major title, but at least provided an honest – and clean – effort.
The veteran contender and his most recent conqueror, unbeaten heavyweight titlist Deontay Wilder both provided clean tests during pre- and post-fight drug testing surrounding their July 16 fight in Birmingham, Alabama. Wilder (37-0, 36KOs) successfully defended his title for the fourth time when Arreola’s corner opted to stop the contest after eight rounds.
Drug tests – which included blood and urine samples from both fighters beginning in June when the fight was first announced – was conducted by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency (VADA) as per the continued efforts of the World Boxing Council’s (WBC) Clean Boxing program. Clean results were confirmed by the Alabama Athletic Commission to BoxingScene.com on Saturday.
Wilder’s WBC heavyweight title was at stake in the fight, which aired live in primetime on Fox. The one-sided win came at a heavy price, as he suffered torn biceps and injuries to his right hand and arm that will keep him on the sidelines for the remainder of 2016.
The bout was a consolation prize for the originally scheduled May 21 event between Wilder and mandatory challenger Alexander Povetkin. The show was due to take place in Moscow, Russia, only for the WBC to remove its sanctioning after Povetkin produced a dirty sample containing traces of the recently banned substance Meldonium.
The incident is still being investigated, but Wilder was permitted to take on a voluntary title defense while waiting out a final ruling.
In came Arreola (36-5-1, 31KOs), a foul-mouthed but authentic and down-to-Earth heavyweight from Riverside, Calif. who accepted the fight on short notice. The irony in his landing the opportunity was that he was coming off of a drug suspension, testing positive for marijuana following a split decision win-turned-No Contest versus Travis Kauffman last December.
The incident was met with a three-month suspension, after which he was due to face Dominic Breazeale this past April. That bout was scrapped when Arreola suffered a freak ankle injury at the start of training camp.
Both fighters went on to lose separate title shots in lopsided fashion. Breazeale was battered by Anthony Joshua for seven rounds in their title bout this past June in London.
As for Arreola, the third time not only wasn’t a charm, but also – by his own admission – his last-ever appearance on the title stage. He came up short in stoppage losses to Vitali Klitschko (Sept. ’09) and Bermane Stiverne (May ’14) in failed efforts to become the first-ever boxer of Mexican heritage to claim a piece of the heavyweight crown.
At the very least, he goes out as a clean fighter.
Ditto for Wilder, although it was to be expected given his stance on performance-enhancing drugs as used by athletes.
“If you have to cheat to better yourself, you don’t deserve to keep the job you have,” Wilder told BoxingScene.com of his belief on the subject. “Look at me; I’m already a big dude, knocking people out, causing career-altering damage… and that’s clean. Can you imagine if I was on that stuff, going out there hopped up like the Energizer Bunny?
“That nonsense, it just need to stop once and for all. I’m gonna keep banging that drum until every boxer – shoot, every athlete – in the world gets on board. That’s going to be my legacy.”