In the end it was the technically superior fighter with the better delivery system and equal toughness and power that won, again.
That is pretty much the story as to why Bermane Stiverne 24-1-1 (21) beat Chris Arreola 36-4 (31) via a sixth round TKO to win the vacant WBC heavyweight title this past Saturday night. For the second consecutive time, Stiverne's superior hand speed, accuracy and better boxing skill overwhelmed Arreola's aggression and presumed power advantage. And he accomplished that against a better and more in shape version of Arreola this time.
As was highlighted here before the fight, Chris is really in a catch-22 stylistically fighting Stiverne. When he didn't push the action and fight behind his jab from the outside, he was in the fight. The problem was he couldn't seize control of the fight from the outside...but he was safe. That was until Stiverne started coming out of his shell with a full assortment of jabs, hooks and crosses to Arreola's head and body. This ultimately forced Arreola to open up more and get into exchanges with Stiverne, and that's when things started to come undone for Chris. When Stiverne began to let his hands go more freely, Arreola was forced to answer back with the hope of stabilizing Stiverne's assault, only it left him more open. In the end it was a looping right to the temple in the middle of an exchange that dropped Arreola for the first time in the bout during round six. Chris beat the count, but he was really hurt and went down again, only to rise and get hit a couple more times before the referee correctly stopped the fight.
History has been brutal to fighters who fight as the attacker and are the supposed puncher, like Arreola, when they lose to the better boxer/technician like Stiverne the first time they meet. The only thing Chris had to fall back on was to get in better shape and try to give Stiverne an overload of what didn't work the first time. And as stated in the pre-fight piece, more aggression and wide- open fighting by Arreola may lead to him getting beat up more and possibly stopped. And sadly for Chris, that's exactly what happened in the fight, especially in light of him leading in the bout when it ended, although it really was a mirage. That's simply because Stiverne looked to be letting Arreola push the action so he'd leave himself open for his big counter shots, especially the right hand.
In reality there's nothing Arreola can do to beat Stiverne. Changing trainers won't do it. Going on a new diet won't do it and neither will fighting more and staying active get it done. The only thing Arreola can do is stay away from Bermane Stiverne because he just can't beat him. There simply isn't one thing Arreola can hang his hat on to hope to beat Stiverne. He can't beat him by fighting it out more and he can't out-box him or out-work him. He just doesn't have the punch, physicality or skill to get by Stiverene. That's boxing. Maybe someone will beat Stiverne and take his title down the road and Arreola may match up better with him, but as long as Stiverne holds the WBC title, Arreola can't get it.
The thing Chris needs to do now is take some time off without ballooning up dramatically in weight. His career isn't over and there are big names and ranked contenders he can beat as long as his confidence isn't badly shaken. I get the feeling that Stiverne has Arreola's number more than he is the next great heavyweight, but only time will tell because he is 35 years old. Arreola can stay in the mix as long as he doesn't let himself become a trial horse and stepping stone. Other than Wladimir Klitschko and Stiverne, Arreola is 50-50 at worst to beat any other heavyweight at the bottom of the top-10, so there's good reason to take care of himself and try to pick the right fights down the road.
As for Bermane Stiverne; he's a very gifted heavyweight and would go into a bout versus WBA/WBO/IBF champ Wladimir Klitschko 62-3 (52) with a realistic shot to score the upset because he can box and punch pretty well. That's something Wladimir hasn't had to face very often during his reign as champ. He's faced many challengers who possessed some power but didn't have the means to deliver it against him. He's faced a few challengers who could box pretty good but they didn't have nearly enough physical strength or power to even annoy him let alone beat him.
However, Stiverne appears to be different. Regardless of the misinformation Teddy Atlas spewed during the broadcast regarding who was jabbing better, Stiverne's jab looked better and quicker in this fight than it did the first time he met Arreola. He also fought with more confidence and seemed more sure of himself. Granted, a lot of that may be he just matches up great with Arreola and has supreme confidence against him. But I think it's a little more than that. If Stiverne isn't shaken or unnerved when Wladimir hits him with something big early, his confidence will grow and that could make things interesting as the fight progresses.
Here's the worst case scenario: Stiverne may not be quite as good as he's looked against Arreola, but he is a skilled boxer who has enough power to keep Wladimir from just walking over and through him. And if by chance he ever hurt Wladimir with a minute or so left in the round, it's very plausible that with his hand speed and accuracy he would be capable of finishing him.
I have an idea: how about if the boxing establishment let Klitschko and Stiverne meet for the undisputed title while Deontay Wilder fights a real live contender in the interim, then have the winners meet?
Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com