Mexico’s border is a mere five minutes away from the gym where Riverside’s Chris “The Nightmare” Arreola has trained the past few weeks. It’s walking distance to the wild and crazy town filled with cantinas, restaurants and night life that can make Las Vegas seem tame.
So, how many times has Arreola crossed the border?
Not one time, is the answer.
“He’s afraid to go to Mexico,” said welterweight contender Josesito “Riverside Rocky” Lopez on Thursday. “He says he stands out too much because he’s so big.”
Instead the heavyweight contender Arreola (36-3, 31 Kos; above photo by Ray Flores, left to right, Javier Molina, Josesito Lopez, Chris Arreola and Oscar Molina).
“I’m not going to lie, I got my ass kicked,” said Arreola of their first bout. “But I was still there for 12 rounds after my nose got busted.”
Arreola, who recently turned 33, agreed to once again move training camp to a location other than his Riverside residency. He admits that if he’s near a familiar setting that finding an excuse to not go to the gym will overcome his need for preparation. The heavyweight also says that if he has a set of car keys he’ll drive off with a handful of excuses ready to deliver like “an oil change for his car” or some other meager excuse.
“I can’t be trusted,” Arreola says.
Inside the House of Boxing gym there are easily a dozen prizefighters going through routines. Arreola sparred with big Joe Hanks a hard-hitting heavyweight, who has 21 wins in 22 fights. His last fight was a loss to Mexican heavyweight Andy Ruiz, who grew up a few miles across the border from where the gym is located.
Hanks and Arreola spar for about four rounds with each fighting at about 85 percent intensity. The Riverside heavyweight is very mobile and more defensive minded than in the past. Hanks has length and speed to go along with his power. Both have their moments but neither heavyweight is looking to knock the other out. It’s basically a defensive drill and each boxer is not delivering the big blockbuster shells they’re capable of sending.
After the sparring session, the big Mexican-American heavyweight goes through a number of boxing drills before ending the regular boxing apparatus. He then proceeds toward a yellow contraption that is placed on the floor, which vaguely resembles a plastic ladder or make-do hopscotch mat. A half hour later the thoroughly drenched Arreola has finished the various tiptoe routines.
“I’m working my butt off,” says Arreola, adding that his previous encounter with Stiverne taught him a huge lesson. “I’m not going to do that to myself ever again.”
Also training in the San Diego gym is Lopez, who has a fight date next week against Aron Martinez of East L.A. at the Agua Caliente Casino Resort in Rancho Mirage.
Lopez recently fought Mike Arnaoutis in a tough scrap, which was very close and included a knockdown of the Riverside boxer who rallied to win by technical decision. Before that, Lopez was in a great fight against Marcos Maidana, who was behind on points when they fought at the StubHub Center, and rallied to win by stoppage.
Maidana’s win over Lopez resulted in a fight against Adrien Broner, who he defeated and now he faces Floyd Mayweather for the WBC welterweight world title. There are a number of what if’s that Lopez is well aware of.
“One punch can change the fight,” says Lopez, who acknowledges that it could have been him in Maidana’s place had he defeated the Argentine boxer. “This fight coming up is my chance to prove I belong among the elite class.”
Lopez sparred with junior welterweight Antonio Orozco, who’s based in the San Diego gym. Although each was only fighting at 85 percent intensity for the first two rounds, the last two they boosted it up a notch and were firing blazing combinations at each other.
“It was real quality sparring with Antonio Orozco,” said Lopez.
Orozco will be fighting Mexico’s former champion Martin Honorio a few days later than Lopez on April 26 at the StubHub Center in Carson. It’s scheduled for 10 rounds.
The San Diego prizefighter was in a rugged fight against Miguel Angel Huerta a few months back,which ended with a knockout win. He’s been pushing up the rankings and many believe he will be a world champion soon.
Carlos Molina will be fighting Adrien Broner on the undercard of Floyd Mayweather vs. Marcos Maidana on May 3 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Molina’s last fight was over a year ago when he suffered a stoppage against Amir Khan at the L.A. Sports Arena. It’s his only loss but he has an opportunity to make heavy impact when he faces Broner, who suffered his first loss too, against Maidana.
“We picked up some things we saw in Broner’s fight against Maidana that we’re working on,” said Molina, who was joined by his younger brothers, the twins Oscar and Javier. “We also saw a lot in Paul Malignaggi’s fight (against Broner) too.”