Let’s get this out of the way up front: Arreola has very, very, very little chance in this one and I fully expect Klitschko to win by KO by, at the latest, the 8th. Arreola’s major asset is that he hits decently hard and can throw very good combinations for a heavyweight, but he’s going against the granite-chinned Klitschko brother and you can’t throw a combination against Mount Klitschko until you get past the jab. Not sure that one’s in the cards. Into the bargain Arreola is pretty easy to hit and nearly got KO’d by Travis Walker two fights ago- not a good sign. For Arreola to win he either needs to hit the perfect punch, or he needs Klitschko to suffer some sort of injury during the fight, or perhaps one in the last couple of days before the fight which hampers his ability to throw a jab and control distance. Maybe a dedicated body attack will bother the big man. I am really clutching at straws here.
The timing of this one is what surprises me. There’s an argument to be made which runs: this is the biggest money fight available to Arreola and likely to be the biggest one he’ll ever have a chance at, so take it now before Vitali decides he wants to go in another direction and you’re left fighting Jameel McCline types again. I can certainly understand that, but here’s a counter-argument: because all the money in heavyweight boxing right now is attached to a Klitschko fight, once you’ve had that fight your career is essentially winding down if you don’t win. Prior to that fight you can get HBO bouts for decent money on the basis of HBO featuring you as a potential Klitschko challenger on the rise. Once you’ve reached the top of the mountain and fallen off there’s not much of a story left to tell, and HBO is likely going to be looking at moving on to the next featured challenger. At that point Arreola is still in his athletic prime at age 28 and still has excellent skills for a heavyweight which make him likely too dangerous as an opponent for the next Klitschko challenger to build himself up with; where does he turn for a money fight then? If he’s looking to cash out of boxing and move on with life none of this matters, but if not he’s got a chance to end fighting Ruslan Chagaev or Nikolai Valuev for mediocre money in Germany in front of unfriendly judges.
I can’t shake the sense that given his entertaining style and Mexican heritage Arreola would/could/should be an independent draw in California if properly promoted, which would give him something to fall back on if he can’t defeat Vitali. Right now he’s not there, but perhaps if the HBO feature period could be leveraged…ah well. Too late to worry about that now, I suppose.
How dearly I wish I’d written my round predictions here before the fights, because as my roommate Sean might tell you, I actually got them both right on the night for the first time ever. The Williams fight was, a cut to the Punisher aside, almost exactly what I thought it would be; a bit more entertaining and slugfest-y perhaps, but ultimately a clear domination by the younger, stronger, bigger man. The Arreola fight however….
Embarrassing as it is to admit, this was my first time seeing Arreola in more than clips. Lemme tell ya: not impressed. He did a good job keeping his head and finishing, seems to have ok power, and his post-match promo was excellent. Beyond that- yikes. He called out the Klitschkos after his bout, and let’s be clear: either of them would axe-murder him if that were to be his next fight. Think Lewis-Tua, but worse. He’s slow, chubby, has an iffy jab, very little movement (head or otherwise), an “ehh” chin, and he’s criminally hittable. If he weren’t American, he’d be Some Guy; compare where he’s at and where Alexander Povetkin is at, and their relative HBO “push”, and see my point. it is possible that with intensive training in a year or two he might be able to give either K a contest, but I wouldn’t put much money on it.
As for the main event, I thought that was pretty much the best of Paul Williams. He was sitting down on his punches all night, seemed more focused on the body attack than ever before especially with a right hook, wasn’t rattled by the cut and fought in a measured, intelligent way all night. It’s anyone’s guess if that will help him land a serious money fight next time out, but on the basis of this performance you’d be a fool to say there’s anyone out there between 147 and 168 against whom he’d have no chance.
Next major card is DLH-Pacquiao, about which I’ll have much more to say as we get closer to fight time. Suffice to say, I’m one of the people very excited about this fight.