The last time we saw heavyweight contender Cris Arreola 27-1 (24) in the ring he was taking a one-sided going over courtesy of WBC champ Vitali Klitschko. For the ten rounds the fight lasted Arreola's inability to make Klitschko miss him with straight lefts and rights as he plodded forward, along with his ineffectiveness of scoring and getting close to Vitali became more apparent with each passing round. During the fight Cris showed that he was willing but looked as if he only brought a knife to a gun fight.
Make no mistake about it, Arreola isn't a greatly skilled heavyweight, but he can punch with both hands and also showed against Klitschko that he has a dependable chin. In 2009 any heavyweight who can hit and who can also take it pretty good has a jump on the rest of the lot. Against Vitali Klitschko, Arreola had to overcome his lack of experience at the world class level along with facing an opponent who's not only tougher to fight than he looks, but he's also better than most credit him for being unless they're already huge fans of his.
After losing in his first title bid, Arreola showed disappointment in the ring while being interviewed immediately afterward. He vowed that he wouldn't take a lot of time off and would get back to the gym and fight again soon. Which of course sounded good and endeared him to boxing fans, but in all honesty he wasn't taken all that seriously and didn't warrant the benefit of the doubt.
Well it looks as if Arreola was serious. Last week he agreed to fight on the undercard of what was originally scheduled to be middleweight champ Kelly Pavlik versus welterweight/middleweight sensation Paul Williams. Due to Pavlik having to pull out of his bout with Williams because of the lingering effects of a staph infection, Arreola is getting a chance to share the spotlight with Williams in a high profile bout to be aired by HBO.
Now that Arreola has agreed to fight on December 5th, his management has to be careful in regards to who he fights next. He's already shown that he has some things to work with. The last thing they should do is put him in with someone who might shake his confidence. The beating he took from Klitschko no doubt brought him back down to earth as a fighter. However, for Arreola to maximize his ability he needs to feel good about himself again and needs to fight an opponent who'll challenge him and make him fight, but needs to have the night of his life to beat him. A loss in his next fight after losing to Klitschko would be both emotionally and financially devastating for him, making it nearly impossible to bring him back up to where he was.
It's been said in some boxing circles that Arreola should take more time off before he next fights. Wrong. His management needs to be careful in picking his next opponent, but he needs to get back into the gym and start training and building his confidence back up. Arreola has a lot to learn and needs to get in better shape. Having power and a chin gives him a good base but as he found out fighting Vitali Klitschko, it's not enough. Cris needs to learn to be more elusive and not so easy to hit, and it's paramount that he improves offensively when it comes to delivering his power.
As of this writing the names David Tua, Ray Austin and Oleg Maskaev have been thrown out as possible opponents for Arreola. With HBO having final say, it's doubtful Austin will be accepted. The possibility of an early round knockout over Austin is too great and that will not go over well with anyone. That leaves Tua and Maskaev. No doubt Tua-Arreola would be the best matchup for the fans but, Tua's too dangerous for Arreola, (unless they want to bring Tua back as an HBO fighter) especially after being stopped in his last fight. David hits harder than Cris and has an even more proven chin. Tua is vulnerable to being out-thought and out-boxed, but not out- fought. If given the choice Maskaev is the right opponent for Arreola to meet on December 5th. He's not a great boxer and he's hittable. At the same time he can punch so it's not like Arreola can fight and approach him as if he's handcuffed. And fighting someone like Maskaev will force Arreola to work on his defense and better him at learning how to make the other guy miss.
At this juncture Arreola has to work on getting better as a fighter and it wouldn't hurt for him to drop a few more pounds if he's serious about fighting for and winning the title the next time he gets a shot at it. The last thing he can do is balloon up and look like a slob in his next fight a year down the road. By then boxing fans will have forgotten that he at least showed up and tried to beat Klitschko, something that can't be said for Samuel Peter and Juan Carlos Gomez.
Apparently Cris Arreola wasn't just talking and saying what he thought fans wanted to hear from him during his post fight interview after losing his title bout versus Vitali Klitschko this past September. He's taken the first step and has agreed to fight just two months afterward. Now let's see if he makes the necessary commitment to better prepare and become a more well rounded fighter in the interim.
Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com