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Feature Story

Chris Arreola: I want my revenge!

Arreola3ABy Felipe Leon; photos by Leonso Nunez

Redemption and revenge! The two actions that thirty-three year old hard hitting heavyweight title contender Chris “Nightmare” Arreola (36-3, 31 KOs) is looking for this Saturday when he has a rematch with Bermane Stiverne (23-1-1, 2 KOs), the Haitian-born author of his last loss suffered in April 2013.

The bout will be broadcast live from the Galen Center located in the campus of USC in Los Angeles during a special ESPN telecast and presented by Goossen Tutor and Don King Productions.

“I want my revenge, I want my revenge back, and I want to get my loss back! That is a big motivation right there,” Arreola said after an intense training session at the House of Boxing in San Diego, CA. “I hate losing. I don’t even like letting my daughter beat me in the little basketball hoop we have. I don’t care what it is; I’m not going to lose! I hate losing, just getting a rematch, getting my revenge and showing the world that I am an elite boxer, that I am a boxer to be reckoned with. Eventually I am going to go for that undisputed heavyweight title! I want it, I want it all, I am greedy and I am going to get it!”

Arreola2That win-all attitude is what Arreola credits as the motivation that kept him going despite his nose breaking in four places due to a Stiverne right hand in the third round of their first go-around.

“The fight that he shattered my nose, after the fifth round, I was going on balls alone and nobody can take that away from me. The fact that he couldn’t take me out, that puts doubt in his mind. I was a hurt motherfucker! After the third round I was hurt. I was out, bleeding every single round. Every punch he hit me with, even if it was in the arms or my gloves, it hurt so bad, it was the most painfully excruciating punch I had ever been hit with. I could feel my nose grinding against the bone.”

Despite the loss, Arreola proved that he was a warrior, a fact that didn’t escape those that watched the HBO telecast or the fans that made it out to the Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, CA, but also a man that knows Chris all too well, his trainer Henry Ramirez.

“That punch shattered Chris’ nose in four places and after that Chris said he just couldn’t breathe, he was swallowing blood, he said even when he was being hit on the gloves or by a simple jab, the pain was excruciating,” Ramirez stated. “He said he never experienced pain like that. He fought bravely but it definitely hindered his performance. Give credit to Stiverne, he landed the punch and he won.”

Arreola1After suffering through surgery and the accompanying time off to recuperate, Arreola found himself first in a war of words against his next opponent, as he tends to do, although one that lasted much longer than the actual action inside the ring.

In September of last year, Arreola made quick work of ex-football player turned boxer Seth Mitchell, needing only 2:26 minutes to finish him off.

“It felt great. I said what I was going to do and I meant what I was going to do,” Arreola said of his first round knock out of Mitchell. “I destroyed him. He doesn’t belong in boxing. I made a point that day that no football player who comes off the street is going to compete with me.”

Ramirez and Arreola alike credit the fact that in preparation for the Mitchell fight they left the comfy confines of the Inland Empire, the southeast corner of California that Team Arreola call home, for Phoenix, Arizona, where Chris and company set up camp. It wasn’t the first time they had left their home to get ready for a fight but this time the decision not only came from them but also from the influential Al Haymon who steers Arreola’s career.

Arreola4“It was just an absolute necessity. The ultimatum also came from Al Haymon. Al said if he doesn’t go to camp, there was not Seth Mitchell fight but he wasn’t forced to go, he knew he needed to go,” Ramirez explained. “He put the work in and he had a great performance. Same thing here, nobody had to force him and he is the one that said let’s figure out where to have camp. He knows he has to be away from home.”

One big factor being away from home is that Arreola surrenders all independence. He knows that with the power to do whatever he wants like at home, camp wouldn’t work so as soon as it begins, Ramirez is the one in charge.

“I don’t have car keys, man! That is why it is easy for me not to miss,” Arreola answered when asked why is it easier to train outside of his hometown of Riverside, CA. “Henry is the one that drives me everywhere. If I want to go to the store or the market, I have to ask Henry for a ride. If you give me the car keys, I will miss, doesn’t matter where I am at.”

“The thing about it is getting away from myself, not getting away from my wife, not getting away from my friends, it’s about getting away from myself,” he explained. “I am my own worst enemy. I am the one that misses the gym because I find an excuse and I don’t want to make it. Once I am in the gym, I’ll work hard as always. Getting away from town, getting away from home, it’s a necessity. I like being far away that I’m not going to go but close enough my wife can come down.”

This time around they chose the House of Boxing Training Center tucked away in a mostly Hispanic suburb of San Diego while living in a rented house in upscale La Jolla, the seaside village about twenty miles north.

Along with Arreola, Josesito Lopez who stopped Aaron Martinez a couple of weeks back also made his camp in San Diego as well as a couple of other Ramirez trained fighters. One other thing that Arreola had to import was quality heavyweight sparring partners, the one thing that San Diego lacks. One that made the trip south was Newark, New Jersey’s Joe Hanks.

“He is looking sharp, every day he is getting stronger and stronger, reflexes are getting quicker, he looks in very good shape, Hanks said after four solid rounds of sparring with Arreola. “He said after the second week that he was already in better shape that the first fight so he has been taking it serious. We are working very hard.”

“The subtle pressure, getting the guy to work, get him to get out of his breathing pattern with the pressure he likes to put on,” Hanks said of Arreola’s strongest weapon inside the ring. “I think that is his asset, he just keeps coming. He has a big heart too, he did all that last fight with a broken nose, fighting hard like that but this time he will be a lot sharper, a lot slicker but with the same type of pressure. I feel that he is adding on to what he already did before.”

Henry Ramirez admitted to have tweaked a thing or two in Arreola’s style but at this point, after a highly successful eleven-year career, Arreola is who he is. “We’ve worked on a couple of different things but at this point Chris is a high-pressure fighter, he uses head movement much better. Chris has to be Chris and Stiverne is going to fight his fight. The other thing is that he is in much better shape that the first Stiverne fight.”

I think my last fight against Bermane Stiverne; I threw 360 or 380 punches, right around there, the whole twelve rounds. That is horrible,” Arreola explained while admitting that his pressure is the key to success in his second attempt at a world title. “I am looking to double that, triple that. I want to throw a lot of punches. I am not a one-punch knockout power kind of guy. I set up a lot of my punches by relentlessly staying on the guy and that is exactly what I am going to do to this guy. I need to be smart. I have to work behind a jab and I just can’t leave my head to one side or the other. I have to make sure that I am moving my head because every punch that he throws is a deadly punch and I don’t want to get hit with none of those ever again.”

The heavyweight division has always been considered the most important one in boxing. Many say that the fate of the sport can be directly correlated to the health of the over 200-pound division. Never in the history of prizefighting has there been a Mexican heavyweight champion. Arreola had his first opportunity for the record books back in September 2009 when he challenged the man who left the title vacant, Vitali Klitschko. In the eyes of Ramirez, the loss Arreola suffered against Vitali was a blessing in disguise since for him Arreola was not ready at that point to become the heavyweight champ.

“It has a big historical aspect of it since Mexicans and Mexican-Americans have a long tradition in boxing but never in the heavyweight division,” Ramirez explained. “Obviously to overcome Stiverne and win the WBC title would be huge. To be the first one to do it would be an honor. I used to tell people that being the heavyweight champion came with responsibilities. I think back then in our first go around with Klitschko, Chris wasn’t mature enough to handle success. I think that now he can handle the success and the responsibility in being the first Mexican-American to hold the heavyweight title. It’s huge.”

“That is why I am in boxing for. To be in the books, plain and simple,” Arreola said in closing. “When I am dead, people are going to talk about me. ‘Oh, that is the Mexican Jack Johnson.’ Chris Arreola, people are going to know my name. When my daughter goes to school, she is an Arreola; people are going to know that I am the daddy. I’m her daddy and her daddy is a bad motherfucker.”

“That is all I care about. I care about my legacy, I care about my family and that is why I am doing it. Not only that but the fact that you can come from nothing and make something out of yourself. Plain and simple. Kids are going to have something to look up to. When I was a kid, I looked up to Julio Cesar Chavez. One of the nicest persons I have ever met. That is exactly the kind of role model I want to be.”

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