Chris Arreola/Photo courtesy of Premier Boxing Champions
LOS ANGELES – Chris Arreola of Riverside would love to become the first fighter of Mexican descent to win a major heavyweight world title. He’s already had two bites at the apple, but came up short in TKO losses to Vitali Klitschko in 2009 and Bermane Stiverne in 2014.
He’s going to get one more shot when he challenges undefeated knockout artist Deontay Wilder for his title July 16 at Legacy Arena in Birmingham, Ala. (on Fox).
“It is now or never,” Arreola told this newspaper before Tuesday’s news conference at the Conga Room formally announcing the bout. “Title shots don’t come that often. This is my third time, man. Third time’s the charm, man. I’ve gotta make this happen.”
A victory – especially considering Arreola will be a heavy underdog – would mean everything to Arreola.
“The main thing is history. That’s it,” he said. “I’m going to be remembered.”
Wilder, of Tuscaloosa, Ala., won the title with a wide unanimous decision over Stiverne in January 2015. Wilder has defended his belt three times and was supposed to make his fourth defense against Alexander Povetkin of Russia on May 21.
However, Povetkin tested positive for the banned substance meldonium and that fight was scrapped. It was time to look for another opponent, and Wilder believes Arreola was the right choice for a fight that was made June 13, just more than a month before it will be contested.
“We know that Chris comes to fight,” said Wilder, who at 6-foot-7 is some four inches taller than Arreola. “We know that whether he’s in shape or out of shape, he’s going to give a hundred percent. And he’s going to sell tickets because of the toughness.”
Wilder said that to him, all of Arreola’s fights have been exciting.
“That’s what we need,” Wilder said. “And when you’ve got two guys that are hard-hitters that fight with their heart, and they try to get you out of there as soon as possible, what a great fight it makes for short notice. It’s going to be crazy, so I definitely think we picked the right person for this.”
Arreola has fought three journeymen since losing to Stiverne via 6th-round TKO at USC’s Galen Center in May 2014. He beat Curtis Harper over eight rounds and had a draw with Fred Kassi. Arreola then won a split-decision over Travis Kauffman this past December in San Antonio, only to have that changed to a no-decision when Arreola tested positive for marijuana.
This is hardly awe-inspiring stuff, but Wilder scoffed at the notion Arreola is not worthy of this chance.
“People said Arreola doesn’t deserve the shot, but who are they to say things about a man who every time he gets in the ring, fights with his heart?” Wilder said.
Arreola has taken a lot of heat over the years. Particularly, he’s been hammered about coming into fights out of shape. Against Kauffman, he weighed 236 1/2 pounds, his lowest since 2011.
But his effort in training and subsequent victory were wasted with the positive test. He was asked how fans can be sure he won’t have another dirty test that would disallow what would be a shocking victory over Wilder.
“Because (trainer) Henry (Ramirez) doesn’t let me out of his sight, you know what I mean?” Arreola said. “But in all honesty, man, I do have to take this serious and I have taken this serious.”
Arreola, 35, is 36-4-1 with 31 knockouts. Wilder, 30, is 36-0 with 35 knockouts.