By Francisco Salazar
Dr. Ironfist versus the Nightmare. The title would be a great way to sell a clash between two titans. But to millions of boxing fans worldwide, Vitali Klitschko versus Chris Arreola will do just fine. In a bout that has been begged for for the last couple of months, two of the big giants in the Heavyweight division will get it on Saturday, September 26th at the STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, CA. HBO will televise a bout that boxing pundits and even both fighters predict will not go the 12 scheduled rounds.
Photos: Big Joe Miranda
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Originally, Klitschko was scheduled to face David Haye on September 12th for the world title that Klitschko is defending against Arreola. However, Haye backed out of the fight and instead is fighting for the world title held by Nicolai Valuev.
Enter Arreola, who is coming off a fourth round knockout over Jameel McCline back in April. Arreola and his promoter, Dan Goossen, have clamored for sometime about wanting to face Vitali or his brother Wladimir.
Arreola’s wish came true as K2 Promotions, Klitschko’s promoter, and Goossen Tutor Promotions worked out an agreement. The date was moved to September 26th to give Arreola more time to train.
Both fighters met the press on Thursday afternoon with Arreola walking out first, followed by Klitschko, who walked up behind a seated Arreola and briefly massaged his shoulders.
Never at a loss for words, Arreola beamed with confidence about getting an opportunity to fight for a world title.
“I want to rip his head off,” said Arreola, who made his professional debut three months after the Lewis-Klitschko fight in 2003. “I respect him a lot and I feel that he thinks that I will be a stat for him. But, I’m here to win. It’s going to be a great fight on September 26th.”
“There’s no trash talk. He will be a pop culture question. ‘Who did Chris Arreola beat to become the first Mexican Heavyweight champion of the world?’”
“This fight will not go 12 rounds,” concluded Arreola.
“This fight will not go 12 rounds, but I’m prepared if it does,” said Klitschko, who now resides in Los Angeles after living for many years in the Ukraine and Germany.
“Arreola is a tough fighter with a big heart and a big punch. There’s talk about me and Arreola and people giving their own predictions. Honestly, I don’t know what will happen. I trust myself and I trust my abilities. I think about how I can fight him. It’s interesting for the fans and for me. This fight will be a real battle.”
For fight fans, it means they will see two of the heaviest hitting Heavyweights today. Klitschko has 36 knockouts in his 37 victories, which Loeffler, Klitschko’s promoter, pointed out is the highest knockout percentage of any Heavyweight champion ever.
Arreola (27-0, 24 KO’s) began his professional career with eight knockouts and has stopped 14 out of his last opponents.
It will be the third time that Klitschko will fight at STAPLES Center, the most among all boxing champions. Klitschko fought Lennox Lewis for the world title in 2003. After six spirited rounds, the fight was stopped because of a nasty cut above Klitschko’s eye, giving Lewis the victory even though Klitschko was ahead on the scorecards.
“I was winning that fight. I know that I would have won.”
The following year, Klitschko defeated South Africa’s Corrie Sanders to win the title.
Arreola, who resides in Riverside, grew up in East Los Angeles, not far from STAPLES Center. It was in the East L.A. area where he would go to nearby gyms to see his idol, Julio Cesar Chavez, spar and train at these facilities.
“Chavez was an inspiration because he was different outside of the ring. He was calm and mellow, like I am when I’m not in the ring. “To me, being the first Heavyweight champion of Mexican descent is something that is big and what I strive for.”
Because of his increasing popularity, Arreola will have the crowd support for this fight. Something Klitschko joked about.
“I have Mexican fans who have cheered for me. But when this fight was made, they came up to me and told me ‘Sorry, but we are going for Arreola.’ That’s fine. That’s just the way it is.”
The way it is or it should be for fight fans is for more crowd-pleasing fights like Klitschko versus Arreola to take place. At a time when boxing is at times losing its appeal, fights like this could put a shot in the arm in the sport.
No matter who wins this intriguing bout, the winners will also be the fight fans, who show their loyalty with their knowledge of the sport or attending fight cards, big and small.
Yes, Dr. Ironfist versus the Nightmare could be catchy. But, Klitschko versus Arreola is all that needs to be said to fight fans.
Notes from the press conference:
– Ring announcer Michael Buffer served as MC of the press conference.
– HBO analyst and Los Angeles resident Larry Merchant took in the action at the press conference. He shook Arreola’s hand, wishing him the best.
– Unbeaten John Molina (17-0, 13 KO’s), who was also present at the press conference, will fight on the undercard. His opponent is still to be determined. Molina resides in Covina.
– Aside from both agreeing that the fight will not go 12 rounds, both fighters agreed with their dislike of David Haye. Arreola bluntly referred to Haye with a female part of the anatomy that starts with the letter “v.“
– K2 Promotions in association with Goossen Tutor Promotions will promote the card.