With a career crossroads fight for former #1-world ranked heavyweight contender Cristobal Arreola (29-2, 25 KOs) just three weeks away, Team Arreola brought in some reinforcements with the notable addition of highly-successful and respected, Houston-based trainer Ronnie Shields. Shields, who worked with Mike Tyson and guided the likes of Evander Holyfield, Pernell Whittaker, Meldrick Taylor , Vernon Forrest and Kermit Cintron to world titles, will share the corner with incumbent trainer Henry Ramirez at Arreola’s January 28 ESPN2 “Friday Night Fights” main event against hard-hitting southpaw Joey Abell (27-4, 26 KOs) at Pechanga Resort & Casino in Temecula, CA.
“I spoke with (Arreola’s advisor) Al Haymon a couple of months ago about possibly working with Chris,” Shields revealed. “They called me a few days ago and told me they were sending Chris down to Houston and we had the first workout this past Wednesday.”
This development is something new for both Arreola and Ramirez, as they have been together since Arreola’s amateur days. Not long ago he was considered one of the most popular heavyweights in the world because of his aggressiveness and propensity for knocking out his opponents. But since experiencing his first pro loss after 27 consecutive wins against WBC world champion Vitali Klitschko back in September, 2009, Arreola has been widely criticized by boxing insiders – including his own promotional and management team – and his most ardent fans for his obvious lack of commitment to training and conditioning. Haymon, promoter Dan Goossen and even Ramirez all concurred that Arreola needed to hear a new voice bringing in new training techniques to add to — and tweak some of — those Ramirez has in place.
“Henry let me go ahead and train Chris the way I thought it should be done on the first day of training,” Shields acknowledged. “Chris hit the mitts and shadowboxed. Then I discussed with Henry what I had seen. It was the first time I’d seen Chris shadowbox and I told him that there were some things he wasn’t doing correctly that he was doing on the pads. Basically, it was that he was lunging with his right hand. And I told him that we need to work on trying to correct it and get rid of the bad habits. We ended up doing about 10 rounds that day.”
In addition to the change in training for his upcoming fight, Arreola is also working with a new man in charge of conditioning. In lieu of Arreola’s regular conditioning guru Darryl Hudson, Shields has Arreola working with his locally-based expert Brian Caldwell.
“Brian Caldwell has been with me and worked with Juan Diaz, Kermit Cintron and just about every fighter I’ve trained,” Shields noted. ‘So it made sense to work with him since he’s already here instead of flying someone else in.”
As for the potential that Shields sees in Arreola and the impact he can make on his career, Shields sees an opportunity to help the Riverside, CA native realize his dream of becoming the first world heavyweight champion of Mexican descent.
“As I told everybody when I first saw Chris when he was an amateur, this kid will be heavyweight champion of the world. And he’s still a young guy; he’s only 29 years old. He’s still a baby. I told him that the first day. I had a long talk with him before we trained and just wanted to see where he was coming from. I see a lot of potential in Chris, but the truth is he is his own worst enemy. I told him that I’m not here to put pressure on him; I’m here to help him. I’m going to work side by side with Henry on trying to get Chris into position to once again challenge for a world heavyweight title — and possibly win it.”
The Arreola-Abell main event and co-feature pitting Michael Dallas, Jr. (17-0-1, 7 KOs) versus Josesito Lopez (28-3, 16 KOs) will be televised LIVE on ESPN2’s “Friday Night Fights” (10pm ET/7pm PT).
Ticket prices start at $35 and are available at www.pechanga.com or directly at the Pechanga Box Office daily from 10am to 10pm, or by calling 1-877-711-2WIN. Doors open at 5pm. First Bout is at 6pm.