On Saturday night, a charismatic Mexican-American with a made-for-television brawling style will face a hard punching and athletic Haitian-Canadian who also talks a good game. The match up is even more appealing than that because it is a rematch of an exciting brawl but this time the Bermane Stiverne (23-1-1) and Chris Arreola (36-3) will be battling for the vacant WBC heavyweight title. Big Stakes, right? Despite that, neither HBO (which aired the first fight and is always looking for a popular challenger to face heavyweight champion, Wladimir Klitschko) nor Showtime (which does most of its business with Al Haymon, whom Arreola is connected to, and which has invested in heavyweight prospect and Olympic Bronze Medalist Deontay Wilder who is the mandatory challenger for the winner of Stiverne – Arreola 2) had any interest in airing this bout.
ESPN, known for airing small budget fights on its “Friday Night Fights” series, allocated more money and bought this fight. Potentially, this is a game-changer for boxing. The “Worldwide Leader” has more money and is available in way more homes than either premium network. If ESPN wants to get involved in airing big time boxing, it could certainly become a huge player. That said, the network will probably not do so unless this fight is a ratings success.
As for the fight itself, picking a winner is not easy. The oddsmakers are even having trouble making up their minds: Bovada lists Stiverne as a -145 favorite and Arreola at +115; www.sportbet.com has longer odds with Stiverne at -155 and Arreola at +135; while www.bet365.com has Arreola as a 11/10 favorite and Stiverne at 8/11. In the first fight, where Arreola was the substantial favorite, the Riverside, California won the first two rounds. Things turned in the third round when Stiverne landed a massive punch which simultaneously broke Arreola’s nose and dropped the Mexican-American. Stiverne went on to win a lopsided decision (117-110 twice and 118-109). In the win, Stiverne demonstrated more hand and foot speed than Arreola as well as the ability to hurt Arreola. That is probably why more people seem to be favoring the man known as “B-Ware.”
Arreola, on the other hand, is the one with momentum going into this fight. Stiverne has not fought since winning the first fight over a year ago. Arreola has used the time to re-dedicate (or is it re-re-re-re-dedicate at this point?) himself to getting in top physical and mental condition. Instead of training in his hometown, where distractions and beer are in abundance, Arreola now goes away to training camp with longtime trainer Henry Ramirez. This new dedication paid off in September when a clearly in-shape Arreola ran through prospect Seth Mitchell in two and a half minutes. Additionally, in the photos from his training camp and this week’s press conference, Arreola looks to be in top condition. Maybe more importantly, his conditioning has Arreola in a very confident frame of mind even though he is facing a man who previously defeated him.
It should also be noted that while Arreola is an exciting brawler, he does have good boxing skills, especially on the offensive side. Stiverne is a good boxer as well but one must worry about his inactivity: he had only one fight each in 2012 and 2013. So this is it. For the last time, the ABSOLUTE LAST TIME, I am buying into the Chris Arreola hype machine and thinking he has finally pulled it all together… Arreola is the pick.
Author’s Record for the Year: 19-10 (Last week I went 4-1 on the big PPV card with my only loss being not able to anticipate Amir Khan coming off of a year long layoff to give a terrific performance in a victory over Luis Collazo. By the way, I had Floyd Mayweather correctly picked as the winner and did not sweat out the decision because, respectfully, there is no way Marcos Maidana won that fight).
Author’s Record in 2013: 70-24-6
Tags: Boxing, Chris Arreola