Chris Arreola will be the first to admit he’s never been the most dedicated gym rat. But he insists he’s training like never before in advance of his battle with heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder.
“This is do-or-die, so this will be the best boxing shape I’ve ever been in,” Arreola said. “It’s not so much what I want to weigh, but the way that I want to perform. I want to be able to throw 75, 80 punches a round, keep Deontay on his heels and make Deontay work.”
A two-time title challenger, Chris Arreola (36-4-1, 31 KOs) will get his third crack at becoming a world champion when he takes on Deontay Wilder (36-0, 35 KOs) on July 16 at Legacy Arena in Birmingham, Alabama (Fox, 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT).
The fight represents the fourth defense of the world title Wilder won from Bermane Stiverne in January 2015. Ironically, Arreola’s last two defeats came against Stiverne in April 2013 (unanimous decision) and May 2014 (sixth-round TKO), the latter being for a vacant heavyweight title that Stiverne subsequently lost to Wilder.
“I was one of those guys who said Deontay didn’t deserve a title shot,” Arreola said. “But he made me eat my words because he did what I couldn’t do in beating Bermane Stiverne.”
For the two bouts with Stiverne, the 6-foot-3 Arreola tipped the scales at 247 and 239 pounds, respectively. In between those defeats, Arreola was 242 pounds for a first-round knockout of Seth Mitchell.
However, after those three contests, Arreola ballooned to 262¼ pounds for a sloppy unanimous decision over Curtis Harper, then weighed 246¾ for a majority draw against Fred Kassi last July. He was down to 236½ for his most recent bout on December 12, a 12-round majority decision over Travis Kauffman—a result that was later changed to a no contest after Arreola failed a post-fight drug test.
Arreola was at his best during a seven-fight stretch from August 2010 to February 2012 when the Southern California native went 6-0 (5 KOs) with a no decision. He weighed 256 and 249¾ pounds for the first two victories, then ranged from 234 to 245 for the next five bouts.
One of those victories was against Nagy Aguilera in May 2011, when Arreola scored a third-round knockout a day after hitting the scales at 236 pounds.
“When I fought Nagy Aguilera, I threw a lot of punches in combinations,” Arreola said. “I was able to deliver with bad intentions, and I was accurate.”
Arreola is hoping for similar results come July 16, for while he knows he’ll never defeat the sculpted Wilder in a bodybuilding competition, he’s confident he can outwork the 30-year-old champ in the squared circle.
If he does that, Arreola—who lost his first world title fight to Vitali Klitschko in September 2009—will become the first fighter of Mexican descent to become a heavyweight champion.
“Pete Rose told me after I lost my first title shot that he didn’t win his first [World Series] title until the third time,” Arreola said. “That always resonated with me. This is my third opportunity, so I’ve got to make Deontay know he’s in a fight. I’ve got to make this one count.”
BY: LEM SATTERFIELD