Chris Arreola/Photo courtesy of Premier Boxing Champions
It’s easy to say the third time might be the charm for Chris Arreola of Riverside, but there will be nothing easy about it when he challenges Deontay Wilder for his heavyweight world title July 16 from Legacy Arena in Birmingham, Ala. (on Fox).
The fight was announced Monday afternoon.
Arreola will try to win his first major world title in his third try. He challenged Vitali Klitschko for his championship belt in September 2009 at Staples Center, but was stopped after 10 rounds. Arreola took on Bermane Stiverne for a vacant title in April 2013, but was stopped in the sixth round at USC’s Galen Center.
Now, Arreola, 35, has the task of trying to win the title against the undefeated Wilder (36-0, 35 KOs), a 6-foot-7 knockout artist.
“I’m thankful to Deontay for this opportunity,” Arreola said. “He has proven a great deal by winning the heavyweight title and by defending it three times. I’m very excited to step into the ring with him, put on a great show, be victorious and make history by becoming the first Mexican heavyweight world champion.”
No fighter of Mexican descent has ever been heavyweight world champion.
Wilder, 30, took the title from Stiverne via unanimous decision in January 2015 at MGM Grand in Las Vegas. It’s the only time Wilder has been taken the distance. He has successfully defended his title with knockouts of Eric Molina, Johann Duhaupas and Artur Szpilka.
Wilder was supposed to make his next defense against Alexander Povetkin of Russia on May 21 in Moscow, but that bout was scrubbed when Povetkin tested positive for the banned substance meldonium.
Wilder can’t wait to get his hands on Arreola (36-4-1, 31 KOs).
“This is the longest stretch (six months) that I’ve been out of the ring and I’m anxious to get back in and continue my quest to become the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world,” said Wilder, of Tuscaloosa, Ala. “This is another fight in that process.
“I respect Chris Arreola for getting into the ring with me, but we all know who the real champion is and I’m going to prove it. I’ve been training long and hard for a fight and now I’m going to take it out on Arreola on July 16.”
Arreola, who will be training for this fight in San Diego, is nearly 6-4. But his reach of 76 inches pales in comparison to Wilder’s 83. Arreola’s trainer, Henry Ramirez, has already had a very important talk with Arreola in this regard.
“I told Chris, ‘The safest place for you is in his chest, not only where you can work, but you can avoid the big right hand where he gets his good leverage on it from the outside,’” Ramirez told this newspaper by telephone not long after the fight was made official.
As for this being Arreola’s third shot at the promised land that is a world championship, Ramirez said, “It’s now or never.”
In his most recent fight, Arreola won a 12-round split-decision over Travis Kauffman in December in San Antonio. It was changed to a no-decision when Arreola afterward tested positive for marijuana.