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ArreolavsVitali-weigh-in-photoArreola is now acting like a professional athlete, taking care of his temple. Could he take care of Wladimir if they fought?

You have to root for Cris Arreola when you meet the genial, super candid Mexican-American heavyweight in person.

Well, you don't have to, but it's easy to do so. Especially now that he's a trimmer version of himself, and you don't find yourself shaking your head at the potential missed opportunities his eating and training habits have caused.

At the Williams-Lara press conference at the Palm West in NYC Wednesday, Arreola (32-2, with 28 KOs; age 30), who fights journeyman Friday Ahunanya (24-7-3; age 39) on the undercard, Arreola told me he's walking around in the “low 240s, high 230s.”

Pretty solid for a guy who'd creep over over 275 plus in between fights a couple years ago.

So, what sparked the change?

He was sitting at home, staring at the wall and it hit him that his 2010 stunk the joint out. He lost to Tomasz Adamek, and then went the distance with Manny Quezada. This came after a cruddy September 2009, when he got battered by Vitali Klitschko. “I realized it was all my fault,” he admitted. He knew he should have blasted out Quezada in three or four rounds, so he got serious.

No more late night taco and brewski binges for the Californian. He still had and has urges, but gulps waters like a camel in the desert instead of indulging.

He tuned in to the Klitschko-Haye fight, he said, and found it “kind of embarrassing,” he said. He chose not to smack Haye brutally for his toe excuse, telling me that he hurt a pinky badly before a bout, but still fought on. But, he said, “I'm not a mover like Haye. I'm not going to degrade Haye, but a toe injury doesn't affect your hands.”

So he's looking to stay active, stay in good shape in between bouts, and would like to fight Wladimir in the US by the end of the year. He said that he thinks of the two brothers, Vitali has the bigger cajones, and hits harder. “He throws thudding, hard punches. I sparred Wladimir after I had three fights, and his punches were crisp, with a lot of zip.”

If and when he and Wlad meet, getting inside will be key. He says he tried like the dickens to do that against Vitali, but couldn't. Now, he's been working on more head and body movement to help in that department. Footwork, and a strong jab are also keys to success, he said.

Arreola got off a good line during the presser. He told all he's watching his weight. “I'm watching food instead of eating it,” he joked.

HBO will show highlights of the Arreola-Ahunanya fight on Saturday.

As I said, it is easy to root for Arreola. The partisan side of me would like him to down Vitali, as I think the game could use some fresh air.

Major props to Chris for getting his habits under control, of course, but I wonder if he has grown enough technically to have much more luck against Wlad than he did Vitali. Remember, Arreola was active for a heavy guy. It's not like he started huffing and puffing and crumbling after three rounds.

Me, I'd counsel all who fight Wladmir to go back to the Corrie Sanders tape, and study it.

Rush him. Bully him. Flurry his face off. Fire all your guns and explode into his space. Go like a madman for a single round, and then let the chips fall. Because he will dissect you from a distance over the course of twelve rounds.

Tear into him like one of those tacos you used to inhale, Chris.

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