ESPN rolled the dice and showed boxing on primetime TV Saturday evening, a heavyweight tussle for the WBC heavyweight belt vacated by Vitali Klitschko, who went from the red light district of sports to the red light district of life, the political arena.
Bermane Stiverne, a Haitian-born Canadian living in Miami, took on Californian Chris Arreola, a Mexican-American who lost a UD12 to Stiverne 12-plus months ago, and I do believe the suits at the WWL will be happy with the action they served up.
The scrapping was tight early, but Stiverne got into a rhythm in the fifth, after letting Arreola expend some energy. In the sixth, he upped the ante, and sent Arreola to the mat, twice. Arreola ate more hard, clean shots and the ref stepped in. Stiverne dropped to the mat, face down, beyond emotional. Arreola came over and hugged him, and they exchanged kind words.
The first knockdown was a right after a lazy jab. That temple shot was nasty, and destroyed his earlobe. Left hooks sent Arreola down for the second time. The ref, Jack Reiss, gave him extra time, both times, but it wasn't enough to save the night for him. The TKO came at 2:02.
Stiv, post-fight to Bernardo Osuna, said he wanted to let Arreola get comfortable. He said he knew that right hand would be there for him. He stated he didn't care about Deontay Wilder or Wladimir Klitschko, and wanted to exult in the win. "I gotta shoutout to Haiti, baby!" he said. Osuna then spoke to Arreola. Arreola said he was "devastated" and dropped some eff bombs as proof. He said the fight was maybe stopped early, and felt he was winning the fight, hands down. He tipped his hat and gave Stiv all due respect. He liked his jab, but said he busted his hand around the fourth. "The Nightmare" said he will "keep trucking," and he won't quit. "I'm gonna cause a commotion in this heavyweight division" and said, "No more cervezas."
The tussle took place at the University of Southern California, and Stiverne was 239 1/2 pounds, while Arreola, proclaiming he has finally matured, smartened up, understood that he is his own worst enemy, was 239 pounds.
Don King, with Stiverne, and Dan Goossen, with Arreola co-promoted.
In the first, the 37-year-old Stiverne (23-1-1; entered with WBC silver belt) came out patiently. He up-jabbed, pawed-jabbed, and mixed in power rights. Stiv worked off the ropes twice with comfort, and buzzed Arreola good at the end of the first. A right hand-left hook scored hard.
In the second, the 33-year-old Arreola (35-3 1 ND) did some nice work as Stiv was backed to the ropes. He walked after Stiv, and then caught him with a right hand. Stiv talked to him, and then Stiv slipped to the mat. No knockdown...The Haitian scored to the body in the waning seconds but lost the round.
In the third, Stiv came out working harder. But Arreola had a volume edge midway through. The right landed on Stiv, who got knocked back, but he did answer with a left hook. Arreola grinned after landing, and then chewing on a left hook. Trainer Don House told Stiv to get off the ropes, and Henry Ramirez told his guy also to work the body.
In the fourth, the Arreola jab was crisp. He was backing up to start the round, and then came forward but Stiv came from underneath. He niftily threw a right and slipped out at 50 seconds. He might have taken the round, as Arreola was in energy conservation mode.
In the fifth, Stiv came out setting tone with the jab. He cracked wide rights and hooks, mixed them in, too. A right hand scored and Chris shook his head no. No meant yes---Stiv was in a rhythm now.
In the sixth, a right sent down Arreola. He was up at nine plus, and the ref stopped at eight. Down he went again, at 1:25. He was up at nine, though again, Reiss stopped counting at eight. He ate more, about seven more blows, and was on his feet, but the ref stepped in.
Follow Woods on Twitter.
Who Should Floyd Mayweather fight next: