ONTARIO-The South’s gentleman killer Paul Williams and Riverside, California’s heavyweight rocker Chris Arreola both made a big splash on Saturday.
First, Williams punished IBF titleholder Verno Phillips (42-11-1, 21 KOs) on his birthday for eight brutal rounds in front of 5,400 fans at the brand new Citizens Business Bank Arena, many of those fans watching their first Las Vegas style fight card.
If you look at Phillips' record you would notice that he has never been stopped in a title fight despite fighting a number of monsters in the welterweight and junior middleweight division for 20 years.
Not this time.
Williams took a butt to the head that caused a two-inch cut on the side of his right eye that poured blood the entire fight. Phillips noticed it and it sparked even more activity from the gutsy fighter from Belize.
“I tried to hit him on the cut,” said Phillips after the fight. “But he covered up pretty good.”
Instead of complaining or falling out of sync, Williams seemed to be telling himself that he was not going to let Phillips do what Carlos Quintana had done a year ago and lull him into an unplanned fight plan.
“That was the first time I bled like that,” said Williams (36-1, 27 KOs) who fought the entire eight rounds with blood blurring his vision. “It’s part of boxing.”
For two rounds Williams began gauging Phillips' sharp blows then around the third round the six feet, three inch Georgia fighter began loading up and firing punches to the body of the junior middleweight. After several blows it was easy to see that Phillips felt the punches.
“I felt the third round was the turning point and I could feel his legs leaving him.”
Every round from the third round was a carbon copy with Williams walking through Phillip’s punches and firing crunching blows to the body. Slowly Phillips began to wilt but kept landing an occasional big blast to remind his taller opponent he still had sting left in his punches.
In the seventh round Phillips stepped up his output and caught Williams with several good blows. It looked like the smaller boxer was going to win another round when suddenly Williams slipped into another gear and blasted away at the body. That round seemed to sap the confidence out of Phillips.
Sensing that Phillips was wilting, the WBO welterweight titleholder Williams stepped forward against the brave Phillips and belted him from side to side. Phillips was turned around on a couple of punches but refused to quit. He fired back and just couldn’t muster the energy from the earlier rounds. Williams poured it on.
At the end of the eighth round ringside physician Paul Wallace examined Phillips and advised referee Jon Schorle to stop the fight, for a technical knockout for Williams.
“He wasn’t responding to my questions,” said Wallace.
Williams jumped out of his corner realizing that he had beaten a good champion in Phillips who had never been stopped in a title fight.
Now, Williams seeks another worthy opponent, whether it’s in the welterweight, junior middleweight or middleweight division.
“I’ve been calling out people for 10 years,” said Williams who prefers to fight Antonio Margarito in a rematch. Williams beat the WBA welterweight titleholder in 2007. “I believe I can beat anybody in the world. Bring it on.”
Travis “Freight Train” Walker (28-2-1, 22 KOs) had said all along that he was going to knock Chris “The Nightmare” Arreola out (26-0, 23 KOs).
Man, did he give it a good try.
The heavy-handed Floridian came out winging and landed numerous left hooks and right uppercuts. For most of the first round Walker beat Arreola to the punch repeatedly. Every time Arreola tried to do something Walker would come in blazing and find the mark. Arreola wobbled several times but grabbed to keep the attack under control. In the final 30 seconds Arreola landed a solid left hook that made Walker wobble.
“He’s a strong guy, I felt him right away,” said Arreola, 27. “I wanted to see what he had to offer.”
Walker sensed that he had hurt Arreola and wanted to keep the momentum going. It was a good plan but it was the same plan that the Riverside fighter had too. Unknown to anyone in the arena, Arreola had hurt his left elbow earlier in the week during sparring and complained to his trainer that it was hurting more.
“He told me, 'My elbow is hurting,'" said trainer Henry Ramirez. “I told him you better finish him off quick.”
Instead of finishing him off, it was Arreola who was nearly finished with a right hand to the chin that dropped him to one knee for a knockdown. It was the first time he had ever been knocked down.
“I was thinking I got to get back up and get that point back or win the round or drop him a couple of times,” said Arreola, who took a count of eight on one knee before getting back up.
Bad elbow, bruised chin and bruised ego, Arreola stormed back in the round with his own left hand right cross that wobbled Walker. A lead right hand followed by a left hook dropped Walker for the first time in the fight. The entire crowd, most of them cheering for Arreola, roared in approval for the first time in the fight.
The Florida fighter beat the count and was met with the same right cross-left hook combination and was dropped again. Again he beat the count and the bell rang to end one of the best heavyweight rounds of the year.
“I saw where he was throwing a little lazy jab,” said Arreola about making adjustments in mid round. “I was studying his power and what kind of punches he got.”
With renewed vigor in Arreola’s eyes and more respect in Walkers' posture, the third round saw the Riverside fighter advance quickly to fire a right hand that connected solidly. A blow to the body forced Walker to retreat to a corner where he was met with a right hand and yet another left hook that knocked him down in a heap. Referee Jack Reiss immediately waved off the fight only 13 seconds into the third round for a knockout victory for Arreola.
Walker protested the stoppage.
“I don’t think I was hurt,” said Walker. “I’ll have to see a replay of the tape.”
Arreola jumped on top of the ropes in every corner as the crowd of supporters cheered.
“A lot of people criticized my weight, but all I was worried about was going to war with this guy,” said Arreola.
Many at ringside called it one of the best heavyweight fights since Vitali Klitshcko battled Lennox Lewis 60 miles west in Los Angeles.
Grabbing the microphone, Arreola asked the crowd if it’s one of the Klitschkos that they want to see him fight?
They roared in approval.
Arreola said he would be getting back in the gym quickly to make sure he’s more than ready to test one of the Klitschkos next year. He also thanked Goossen-Tutor Promotions and Al Haymon his manager for picking him out of the club fight circuit.
“They picked me when I was nothing,” Arreola said. “I appreciate that.”
Shawn Estrada wins
Olympic boxing star Shawn Estrada (1-0) of East Los Angeles won his pro debut with a bang. A right hand to the body and a barrage of punches dropped Washington D.C.’s Lawrence Jones (2-2-1), a southpaw, at 1:00 of the first round of the middleweight bout.
Bakersfield heavyweight Manuel Quezada (25-4, 15 KOs) won by unanimous decision over Las Vegas boxer Teke Oruh (14-2-1, 6 KOs) in a slow-paced 10 round bout. No knockdowns were scored in the glacier affair and neither took many chances. In the end, Quezada was busier and won according to the judges 98-92 on all three score cards.
Josesito Lopez (23-3, 14 KOs) plowed through Florida’s Alex Perez (23-32-4) in two rounds and stopped the Cuban fighter with a four-punch combination ending with a left hook. Referee Wayne Hedgepeth stopped the fight at 2:36 of the second round. Lopez had dropped Perez earlier in the round with a left hook to the jaw.
In a welterweight contest, Mike Dallas Jr. of Bakersfield and Jose Lugo of Mexico fought to a six round majority draw. It was Dallas' speed versus Lugos' power in an entertaining back and forth struggle. The scores were 58-56 for Dallas, and 57-57 twice for a majority draw.