RIVERSIDE, CA.-In a short number of days Chris ?The Nightmare? Arreola returns to the ring to face Bakersfield?s Manuel Quesada in a heavyweight match pitting two Mexican-Americans.
Twenty years ago that wouldn?t be possible for a main event.
Back in the day Mexican-American heavyweights really didn?t exist. Oh sure there were occasional heavies here or there but they didn?t pack the speed, height or power that an Arreola possesses today.
On a pleasant Wednesday evening as I walked down the hill to the training camp for the Riverside heavyweight. I took a look around to notice the beautiful landscape of large hills all around. Behind those large hills loomed the San Gabriel Mountains in blue shadows. A view of the 60-Freeway was visible and its stream of cars looked like bugs scurrying from the distance.
I proceeded to walk the remainder of the way down the road and the sound of speed bags, jump ropes skipping and the timer bell was slowly becoming more audible. Inside the gym as my eyes adjusted I could spot a number of fighters such as Hector Serrano, Josesito Lopez, Rafael Lopez, Arreola and a heavyweight from the Wild Card Boxing gym.
The name of the Wild Card heavyweight is Andy Ruiz. Remember that name.
I?d seen Ruiz fight before a year ago in a Tijuana bull ring on the under card of Julio Cesar Chavez. That night more than a few people snickered at the over weight kid with the innocent looking face step in against another heavyweight. That was 50 pounds ago.
Arreola is preparing for his showdown with Quezada on Friday Aug. 13, at the Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario. The fight will be shown on ESPN2 and tickets are available for the Goossen-Tutor Promotions boxing card. Ruiz has been the primary sparring partner.
?He?s a beast,? said Henry Ramirez who trains Arreola. ?The kid is good.?
How good is Ruiz?
?If he fought Manuel Quezada he would whip his butt,? said Arreola. ?He has fast hands, heavy hands.?
Ruiz?s handlers say that he is possibly going to sign with Top Rank on the advice of trainer Freddie Roach.
The last time I ventured into the Wild Card I saw Roach working with the kid on the mitts. His hand speed had increased.
Twice I?ve seen Ruiz fight. The first time I looked at Ruiz it was in Tijuana at his pro debut. He destroyed Miguel Ramirez who was in his second pro fight. The next time was in Mexicali. That night he destroyed Ross Brantley in one round. Both those fights were 50 pounds ago and his hands were fast then.
Now his hands are faster.
By the way, they call him the Destroyer.
That?s a pretty appropriate name for Ruiz.
During the sparring session Arreola cut loose with some hellacious bombs and combinations. A couple of right hands landed pinpoint on the mark with the ferocity of a sidewinder missile. Nothing. Ruiz continued with his own quick combinations of up and down bombs in a firefight that could have caused the nearby San Andreas Fault to crack.
This has been going on for at least three weeks. Seldom is Arreola able to cut loose with all guns blazing. Against Ruiz it?s a necessity.
?He can fight,? said Arreola who appreciates someone who can exchange with him. Few are able to brag they had a war with the Riverside heavyweight and emerged intact.
Ruiz did, and more.
Too bad he won?t be on the Ontario fight card.
Before leaving I asked Arreola what is Ruiz lacking?
?All he needs is more pro fights,? he said.
Speaking of fires, Arreola said his home was in danger of catching flames as a hillside where he lives was burning out of control.
?I smelled smoke and said I wonder where the smoke is coming from,? Arreola said.
Thankfully the fire was contained.
?It was scary,? Arreola said.