By Jason Pribila: We are three years removed from Chris Arreola being labeled as the best American heavyweight. A one-sided beating at the hands of Vitali Klitschko followed by an uninspired loss to Tomasz Adamek forced Arreola to take his conditioning between fights more seriously. Seven straight wins and Arreola found himself on the doorstep to become the mandatory for baby brother Wladimir. Bermane Stiverne had a lot to say about the best laid plans.
Due to postponements each fighter entered the ring for the first time in a calendar year. Arreola started fast by landing straight rights and controlling the first two rounds. Stiverne’s best moment came at the end of the third round. A counter right hand dropped Arreola and possibly broke his nose. The California native survived, but the damage was done.
Stiverne kept the pressure on, and the amount of blood flowing from Arreola’s nose put the fight in jeopardy of being stopped early. However, for all of Arreola’s flaws, his unquestioned heart kept him upright.
Arreola tried to rally in round six. He had his moments when Stivern allowed his back to touch the ropes, but Arreola couldn’t land the big shot to change the momentum. Instead, the Haitian born fighter neutralized the rally by landing to the body and up top.
As the bout entered the final rounds it was clear Arreola needed a knockout. Stiverne, who was also gassed, never gave him the chance. Stiverne stayed out of harm’s way and correctly left it in the hands of the judges.
The officials scores reflected what the audience witnessed. They were unanimous by scores of: 118-109, and 117-110 twice.
Stiverne showed he could crack and cashed in on a golden opportunity. He’s no threat to a Klitschko, but he earned himself a payday. It may be some time before Arreola finds his name on the right side of the marquee again. Fortunately for him, the division has a way of resurrecting careers, but it may take another win streak before we see him again on a major card.
Jason Pribila is a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. I could be reached for questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on twitter @PribsBoxing.