Can Chris Arreola finally silence his critics?
He is never in a bad fight yet is critiqued a lot for his weight. Heavyweight contender Chris Arreola hears about it often.
While it is easy to criticize Arreola for his actions outside of the ring, which has included drinking and not eating right, boxing fans should praise him for what he does in the ring.
A win on Saturday could put him back in world title contention, including a date against WBC titlist Deontay Wilder.
Arreola will face Fred Kassi (18-3, 10 knockouts) on Saturday in a 10-round bout at the Don Haskins Convention Center in El Paso, Tex. The bout will be televised live on CBS, beginning at 4 p.m. ET/ 1 p.m. PT.
In his last bout on March 13, Arreola won a hard-fought eight-round unanimous decision over Curtis Harper in Ontario, Calif., not far from his hometown of Riverside.
He will face another veteran fighter in Kassi, whom he should defeat, but will Arreola struggle like he did against Harper? That remains to be seen but Arreola is indeed eager to fight.
“Fred Kassi is coming to win,” said Arreola at Thursday’s press conference. “This is a big opportunity for him but I plan on putting on a show and being victorious on Saturday.”
At the time of Arreola’s much-needed win over Harper, he was 10 months removed from being stopped by Bermane Stiverne. It was a win for Arreola, but his performance in the Harper fight was scrutinized. Arreola was hit often and some wondered whether his lack of defense could be attributed to him coming in at over 262 pounds, the second highest weight of his career.
Arreola (36-4, 31 KOs) is not immune to hearing about his weight from trainer and good friend, Henry Ramirez. Even Arreola recognizes the evils of eating pizza and what having one too many drinks during training camp can do.
But would people still watch Arreola in a ring, whether he weighed 235 pounds or 265? Absolutely. He has demonstrated his love to fight and his will and heart is what drives him in the ring.
“I love fighting.”
And he may love eating as well, not to mention not taking the right amount of time to dedicate himself to train for a big fight. While Arreola has faced some of the best and hardest-hitting heavyweights in boxing, he still plugs away, hoping to become the first heavyweight champion of Mexican descent.
A win could lead to a fight with Wilder, one he yearns for.
“I want the green belt; it’s the one I’ve always wanted. After Kassi, I want to fight Deontay Wilder and become a champion.”
Boxing fans may or may not continue to critique Arreola for his weight and what he does outside of the ring. Perhaps deservedly so.
Arreola may have had an epiphany and realize sacrificing his vices in order to become a world champion are important. But is that who Chris Arreola really is? Could he still fight to his potential whether he is svelte or overweight?
That remains to be seen but he will still be entertaining to watch.
Francisco A. Salazar has written for RingTV since October of 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (CA) Star newspaper, Boxingscene.com, and Knockout Nation. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing.