Much is being made on boxing websites and talk shows about the recent resurgence of heavyweight Chris Arreola, who won two bouts in May, 2011, and has won his last four overall. Even more impressive, his proponents are quick to note, is the fact that he has lost 20 pounds and at 30 years old, seems to have a new outlook on training and his shot at the title.
I’m still unimpressed. Last year, Arreola fought an undersized Tomasz Adamek ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0LADoXpOUUo) and simply looked foolish. Arreola was overweight, with rolls on his sides and drooping at the chest and he couldn’t catch Adamek with anything more than one punch at a time. Even though he was occasionally able to stun Adamek, Arreola could never finish him off. He simply didn’t have the wind to do it.
He was also having a hard time keeping up with Adamek’s footwork. Adamek does not have good footwork, but he’s at least light on his feet and kept bouncing around the ring, making Arreola chase him the entire fight. This only winded Arreola more and kept him at bay those times when Adamek was stunned by his larger opponent.
So he has since lost some of the weight and won a few fights over some no-name fighters. He did out-punch Nagy Aguilera (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VWJ8DvehFzI), earning a 3rd round TKO on May 14th. But who is Nagy Aguilera? Aguilera simply stood in front of Arreola and let him tee off. He should have taken a page from Adamek and bounced around the ring to avoid Arreola’s combinations, which in themselves are a new development. Arreola has finally learned how to throw them. Perhaps this comes with his new dedication to training. But shouldn’t he have been doing that all along?
The biggest problem I have with Arreola, fat or slim, is his mentality. He’s a puncher. A puncher is only looking for that one, big knockout punch. While punchers always have a chance, they’re never really successful in the upper echelon of the sport. The best fighters are boxers. Boxers know how to set up that one big punch and soften an opponent over several rounds to the point where the opponent’s head and body just can’t take any more punishment and they collapse as a result. They throw combinations, they bob and weave their way into punching positions, and bob and weave their way back out of danger. Boxers know how to use their feet to corner opponents, and how to use them to get out of trouble when their backs are against the ropes. No matter how dedicated he is, I don’t see Arreola becoming a boxer anytime soon.
Another issue he faces is the talent level in the heavyweight division. It’s lacking. Severely. Now that might make the casual observer think that would be a good thing for a mid-level fighter like Arreola. But all I see the lack of heavyweight excellence doing for guys like him are to make them over-confident. Sure he beat Aguilera and Kendrick Releford, but outside of huge heavyweight boxing fans (because even if you’re a huge boxing fan in general it’s unlikely you’ve heard of either of them) no one knows these guys and for good reason. There are lots of heavyweights and few talented ones, so the mid-level guys like Arreola and Adamek boost their records against guys like Aguilera and Kendrick.
The problem for all heavyweights is that at the top of the rankings there are two stone walls with the last name, Klitschko. Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko tower over the rest of the heavyweight division, not only in stature (Vitali is 6’7″ and Wlad 6’5″) but in talent. These two are not only the best boxers and the hardest punchers, they are smarter and more experienced than anyone in the field. Together they have held what could be considered the latest dynasty in the heavyweight division since Lennox Lewis. For guys like Arreola to not only get a title shot, but to beat one of the Klitschko’s is well… not going to happen.
As nice as it is to see Arreola approaching training with renewed vigor, he doesn’t really have a legitimate shot. And that’s a good thing too. If he somehow became a heavyweight champ, I think I’d stop watching heavyweight boxing all together.