Arreola and Wills, pre-combat, as trainer Henry Ramirez helps Wills lace up.
RIVERSIDE, CALIF.-A warm summer-like wind blew through the barnyard style gym perched on a steep slope on Indian Hills in Riverside. It felt like a mid-June breeze as it whipped through the northern side of the boxing facility.
Riverside’s Chris “The Nightmare” Arreola was warming up inside the boxing ring as an old foe was getting his hands wrapped. The old adversary was Damian “Bolo” Wills.
If you remember their first encounter it was a pivotal moment for both heavyweights. At the time, Arreola and Wills were undefeated and looking to move up the pecking order toward contender status.
Six years have passed since Wills and Arreola collided at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. It was like watching two runaway trains on the same track and somebody was about to get derailed. Wills was sponsored by actor Denzel Washington who was ringside for the fight. Arreola, at the time, was that rare Mexican heavyweight looking to prove he belonged.
For six rounds it was an extremely competitive fight. Wills showed his power and speed and Arreola showed his power and speed. That night belonged to Arreola who exited with a technical knockout win and several years later would fight Vitali Klitschko for the world title.
Wills didn’t just disappear, he’s taken his talent across the country and has only three losses in 34 pro fights. That’s quite a record for a heavyweight.
On Friday afternoon, Arreola and Wills traded blows once again. Over the years the two heavyweights are like clones inside the boxing ring. They fire away with big blows including vicious uppercuts and lethal hooks. And over the years they have sparred a number of times. Each and every time is a challenge to maintain the tempo.
“It’s just a continuation,” said Arreola. “It’s like round 160.”
Wills has sneaky speed. He’s built like an NFL linebacker and moves around the boxing ring at an unwavering pace. He fires methodical blows but every so often shoots a lightning quick right cross or left hook that catches onlookers by surprise. He also has an exceptional uppercut.
Arreola is also quick-handed. Combinations come in spurts and are also surprisingly fast for a heavyweight. Perhaps the most notable Arreola attribute is the accuracy of his punches. When he fires he usually connects. His footwork looks pretty smooth as he moved around the ring during the sparring session.
After the sparring session it was evident that Wills still has a lot of gasoline in the tank. His last fight took place in August against former world champion Oliver McCall. He lost a decision but went the distance.
“I broke my hand bad early in the fight,” said Wills. “I needed time for it to heal.”
The right hand looked pretty good during the sparring session. Wills looks like he could fight any top 10 contender in the heavyweight division.
Who would he like to fight?
“Seth Mitchell,” says Wills.
Other fight chatter
WBC lightweight titleholder Adrien “The Problem” Broner (25-0, 21 Kos) defends against United Kingdom’s Gavin Rees (37-1-1, 18 Kos) tonight in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Also, Indio’s Vicente Escobedo (26-4, 15 Kos) fights Edner Cherry (30-6-2, 16 Kos) in a junior lightweight bout. HBO will televise.
Poland’s Krzysztof Szot (17-4-1, 5 Kos) fought Italy’s Brunet Zamora (23-1-2, 10 Kos) for the vacant EBU lightweight title last night. The match was held in Trieste, Italy. Brunet is originally from Havana, Cuba.
Mexico’s Yory Boy Campas (100-17-1, 79 Kos) faced Gabriel Martinez (27-5-1, 14 Kos) in a junior middleweight contest. Campas, a former junior middleweight and welterweight world champion, fought Martinez last night in Navajoa, Mexico.
Canada’s Dierry Jean (23-0, 15 Kos) defends the NABF junior welterweight title against Mexico’s Cosme Rivera (35-15-3, 24 Kos) tonight. The title match will be held in Quebec, Canada.
Amanda Serrano (16-1-1, 10 Kos) from Brooklyn, New York fights Wanda Pena Ozuna (8-4, 2 Kos) tonight. The match for the vacant female WIBA featherweight world title will be held in Santiago de los Caballeros in Dominican Republic.
Alejandro Lopez (24-2, 7 Kos) of Mexico fights undefeated Jonathan “Momo” Romero (22-0, 12 Kos) of Colombia for the vacant IBF junior featherweight world title. Their contest takes place tonight in Tijuana. Romero fights for Thompson Boxing Promotions and has appeared twice on Ontario fight cards.
Derek Edwards (26-2, 13 Kos) fights former world title challenger Anthony Hanshaw (23-2-1, 13 Kos) in a super middleweight contest scheduled for 10 rounds. The fight takes place tonight in North Carolina.
Humberto Soto (60-8-2, 34 Kos) defeated Silverio Ortiz (26-14, 12 Kos) by unanimous decision after 12 rounds on Saturday Feb. 9. The battle between two former world champions was held in Ciudad Obregon, Mexico.
United Kingdom’s Carl Frampton (16-0, 11 Kos) knocked out Spain’s Kiko Martinez (27-4, 19 Kos) at 2:46 of round nine to win EBU junior featherweight title. The bout took place in Belfast, Northern Ireland on Saturday Feb. 9. Middleweight Andy Lee (29-2, 20 Kos) defeated Anthony Fitzgerald (13-4) by unanimous decision. It was Lee’s first fight after losing the late Emanuel Steward as a trainer.
Canada’s Kevin Bizier (20-0, 14 Kos) stopped former world champion Nate Campbell (36-10-1, 26 Kos) at the end of round eight to retain the NABA welterweight title. The match took place in Montreal, Canada on Friday Feb. 8.
Brooklyn’s Melissa St. Vil (4-1-2) handed Canada’s Natasha Spence (6-1-1, 5 Kos) her first pro defeat after eight rounds in Wilmington, Delaware. St. Vil, 29, won by majority decision in a lightweight bout that took place on Friday Feb. 8.