Wilder vs Arreola – a fight bereft of storylines unless you happen to live in Alabama

Wilder vs Arreola – The fight crowd that hangs out at saloons with catchy names like O’Brien’s Pub or Pete’s Happy Hour or Tony’s Sports Bar will be a little thin next week when heavyweight challenger Chris Arreola tries to yank the WBC heavyweight title belt from the tight fists of WBC champion Deontay “Bronze Bomber”  Wilder, live on FOX TV.

The fight is set for July 16 at the Legacy Arena in Birmingham, Alabama, though I’m guessing no one outside the state will be waiting in line to buy tickets. After all, Wilder is a Tuscaloosa native and except for a pair of SEC college football teams, he’s the only other spectator sport in Alabama.

But cross the state line into Mississippi or Georgia and a lot of people are going to scratch their heads, shuffle their feet and ask, “Wilder who?”

Wilder vs Arreola

That’s why an Arreola versus Wilder fight requires a certain amount of drama to attract attention outside Alabama. And so far, there hasn’t been any. The only storyline in this fight is whether Arreola can bring back the past, show some of that fire and fury that took him to the outskirts of the heavyweight championship of the world. He was one win away from the title. Twice. Now he’s back for a third chance, though he’s coming off a string of disappointments to what once was a pretty good list of wins.

And while Wilder is a champ with 35 knockouts in 36 fights, there isn’t a Ken Norton or a Jimmy Ellis or even a Jerry Quarry on his list of knockout victims. And heavyweights are remembered for who they knocked out, not how many.

“A lot of people say that I don’t deserve this title fight,” Arreola said at a recent press conference promoting their fight. “A lot of people said (Wilder) didn’t deserve his title shot. I said that. But when he got (his title shot), he made the most out of it. He beat the guy who beat me.”

The “guy who beat me,” would be top contender Bermane Stiverne, who lost a decision to Wilder last year and who beat Arreola twice, once by decision in 2013 and once by TKO in 2014.

Arreola got the title shot when Wilder’s scheduled opponent – Alexander Povetkin – was forced to pull out of their fight after he tested positive for a banned substance. The WBC, showing a glimmer of heart, told Wilder’s camp to find another opponent to keep him busy. So somebody called up Arreola.

Not everyone agreed with the last-minute fight invitation to Arreola. Some are still waiting to see just how good Wilder really is. And beating Arreola isn’t going to make his name a household word in Biloxi or Memphis.

Overall, Arreola, at 35, is 36-4-1 with 31 KOs. But in his last six fights, he’s 2-2-1 with a no-decision. .

Odds favor Wilder by a landslide.

But while most of the fight crowd isn’t exactly thrilled with the Arreola choice, at least one heavyweight saw the fight as an opportunity to jump into the fray and spread his own name around a little, get some attention.

This might be the first time you’ve heard the name Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller (17-0-1, 15 KOs). That’s because he’s been fighting for seven years and he hasn’t exactly lit up the joint.

“Nobody gives a (hoot) about no Wilder and no Chris Arreola,” Miller told skysports.com. “That is why more than 80 percent of America don’t know who the hell Deontay Wilder is. When they talk about Wilder they say, ‘Who is that guy who has got a belt from Alabama?’ They know him as the wild guy and that is just the reason why people in his own country don’t know who he is.”

Big Baby who?

Wilder vs Arreola