As the two heavyweight sluggers Bermane Stiverne and Chris Arreola stood face to face with each other in the USC Trojan campus, their physical presence alone seemed to energize the air with heavyweight championship fever on Thursday.
Add a robust looking Don King and the kinetic energy of Dan Goossen, who are two promoters well over six-feet tall, and you have a swirling pool of heavyweight stew.
Dozens of reporters and photographers converged at Heritage Hall at USC to view the opening press conference for Stiverne and Arreola’s WBC heavyweight title fight on May 10. The collision takes place at the Galen Center. The Goossen-Tutor Promotions and Don King Production will be aired on ESPN.
Leave it to King to be at his best when it comes to heavyweights. He’s known a few big guys in his time like George Foreman, Evander Holyfield, Mike Tyson, Larry Holmes and of course Muhammad Ali.
King recalled when he tried to make the fight between Ali and Foreman. He said he walked Foreman a few blocks and listened to what the big Texan had to say. The response was: Ali talked too much and did not want to fight him.
After mulling it over King told Foreman, “Here’s your chance to shut him up.”
Foreman took the fight and the world had “The Rumble in the Jungle” in Zaire in Africa in 1974. Now the name of the country has changed and is now called Democratic Republic of the Congo. Time seems to change everything.
It used to be the heavyweight division was ruled by American heavyweights. But for the last decade or so the brothers Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko took all of the belts and held a tight grip on them. Vitali has recently retired and that opened the door to Americans Arreola and Stiverne.
“The Klitschko era is coming to an end. Vitali has moved on to more important things in life. Wladimir’s days are numbered also,” said Henry Ramirez, trainer for Arreola.
As most readers know Vitali Klitschko is involved with his country’s leadership in Ukraine, which is now involved with border issues with neighboring Russia.
It’s heavyweights now, bellowed King.
“We got to bring back that type of atmosphere like Frazier and Ali,” said King.
Arreola was honest about his first performance against Stiverne, in a fight which saw a one-sided win for the Haitian-American heavyweight last April in Ontario, California.
“Let’s face it. I got my ass kicked,” said Arreola. “I didn’t come in prepared. That’s my fault.”
King piped in, “What Chris Arreola do you believe," further adding that his fighter Stiverne walked into their first encounter with a bad back and a bad shoulder and still won.
Stiverne said that he beat Arreola despite the handicaps.
“That was actually plan B. Plan A was not needed,” said Stiverne, who trains in Las Vegas.
Arreola gave Stiverne props for taking him out of his game, especially catching him with the uppercut that broke his nose.
“I can’t throw no lazy jabs. I can’t win a round, then take one off,” said Arreola. “I’m a different beast, a whole lot different now.”
Goossen and King both pointed toward Arreola’s stunning blow-out victory of Seth Mitchell last year as proof of the Mexican-American’s potential. That victory by the Riverside heavyweight reminded fans that he is one powerful prizefighter.
Even Stiverne’s manager believes Arreola and Stiverne represent the future of the heavyweight division.
“I believe these are the two top heavyweights today,” said Camille Estephan, who manages Stiverne.
The last time a heavyweight world title fight took place in Los Angeles happened when Arreola lost to Vitali Klitschko in 2009. Arreola finally gets a shot again at a world title.
“It’s not so much what I learned in my last title fight, it’s what I learned in my career,” Arreola told the crowd.
Regardless of the winner, King says the victor of the heavyweight championship will bring out boxing from the back room to the front parlor.
“This is a revered moment, it’s the heavyweight world championship,” said King. “It’s SKD something, some kind of different as we say in the ghetto.”
Goossen added, “There’s something about the heavyweight division that sets it apart from any other division. It’s made boxing the headlines. Fans love the big boys.”
“It says who’s the baddest man on the planet.”
At 10 a.m. on Friday tickets go on sale for the Arreola-Stiverne fight. Prices range from $25 to $300. Tickets can be purchased at the Galen Center ticket office or by phone at (213) 740-4672. Tickets can also be purchased online at www.GALENTIX.com or www.ticketmaster.com.