Los Angeles May 10, 2014- Well, my night started badly but my boy Chris Arreola’s endedbadly. Heading ‘down below for the big WBC heavyweight title fight between Chris (nightmare) Arreola and Bermane (Beware) Stiverne, yours truly caught a flat tire in the hammer lane of the notorious Antelope Valley freeway. Luckily it was a beautiful day and I had loads of time. I was thinking, damn, I hope Chris’ day is better than mine. It wasn’t.
Bermane (Beware) Stiverne (23-1-1-20k) v. Chris (nightmare) Arreola (36-3-3-31k
The fight took place at a venue that, to my knowledge has never held a professional, let alone heavyweight title fight, the Galen Center on USC’s campus. Ok, ok, I’m getting there. I had been hoping that my boys Chris and his long-time trainer Henry Ramirez would reverse the tables on the power-punching Haitian who had beaten Chris and broke his nose for good measure in their first fight at Ontario, Ca. on 4/27/13. Seems like Chris is always talking about his conditioning, he’s either in great shape or lousy shape. His lack of dedication has been a staple throughout most of his career. I always though being the best, was not an obsession with him. Before a smallish but boisterous crowd, Arreola entered the ring to loud cheers and with Bermane, just the opposite. When I first arrived at the arena, I noticed the ring was rather small and thought, ‘good, no room for Stiverne to be stylin’ and profilin’, he’d have to dance to Chris’ music. Arreola started in a patient manner, unlike his promise to “keep him on his back foot” and I was a bit surprised. I knew he wasn’t gonna’ outbox this guy. Midway through the round though, it started. Arreola trapped his former conqueror on the ropes and landed some clean shots, including a nice right hand to the jaw, arousing his fans. Bermane was cool and calm and then came the return fire. Beware was fully aware of what Arreola had in mind and countered with some beautiful stuff inside Chris’ shots with one uppercut stopping Chris’ onslaught. This is how it went, Arreola putting on the heat, then Stiverne making him turn it off with his ‘outgoing’. The bell saw both guys firing away. One shot in particular wobbled Chris at the bell and I thought oh, sht. The second and third rounds were good for Arreola, but Stiverne was setting traps, like he was hunting bear and sadly, my boy kept walking into them. It’s a bad scene when a guy’s at a disadvantage when he has his man on the ropes. This Haitian can counter-punch his ass off, and with power. He was drilling Arreola with some left hook-right hand sets that had Chris in a bit of trouble, but only in spurts. Chris was still winning the rounds. At one point, Chris hurt Stiverne with some serious rib work and had Stivern gasping. I was starting to relax a bit, thinking, it’s a new night, baby. In the fourth, Stiverne started boxing more, catching Chris cleanly with that from-the-hip jab he likes to throw. This started setting up some serious right hands and Chris was already starting to react, this was becoming a bruising affair, a good heavyweight fight for a change.
The fifth saw a big change as Chris was starting to give up some turf and Bermane was walking and talking to him There’d been the usual bullcrap spoken before the fight and now, it was all real as Bermaine seemed to have Chris all dialed up and was landing at will. At round’s end, he wobbled Chris badly with a right hand and stepped back to admire his work, expecting Chris to hit the deck. He even looked at ref Jack Reiss, I guess expecting an eight count. At this point, with it being less than halfway through the fight, Bermaine was on a serious roll and there wasn’t poop that Chris could do to stem the tide. Though Chris had fought better than I’d seen in a while, he still made the same fatal mistake as before, he was leaving his jab in the air and Stiverne dipped and landed that same overhand right to the temple, short-circuiting all Chris’ stuff. There was a brief pause before the shot registered, then Chris did a little dance and he doesn’t seem like much of a dancer, anyway. Down he went, as a jubilant Stiverne, danced to the corner. Chris, took the count on a knee and when he arose, everybody knew what was up, he was in deep dookie. The clowning Stiverne was right behind the ref as he completed the count and had to be directed back to the corner giving Arreola a few extra seconds, as if that meant something. The chalk was on the board and when Reiss asked if he was all right, Chris instinctively said “yeah”. Wrong answer, Chris. The warrior mentality was in full-effect, but Stiverne was hell-bent on ‘finishing this’. He drilled Chris and dropped him again and this time, there was only a matter of how much more Chris was gonna’ subject himself to. After a few more shots, Reiss called a halt and there was no protest, not even a mild one, as Chris trudged to his corner, a beaten, broken, fighter. There were no tears, this time, no uncontrolled rants, just an attitude of, ‘I can’t beat this guy’. Stiverne becomes the first Haitian heavyweight champion (were there any other hwts from there) and he deserved it. At 35, he seems to be at his peak and looks ready for the best out there. In the audience, was the unbeaten, untested loudmouth, Deontay Wilder. While a big right hand puncher, Stiverne is no stationary target and I expect he’d beat the over-hyped Wilder. Arreola said afterwards, “I’m far from done I’m pushin’ on, man” when asked about future plans. He said “some changes need to be made” and one can only wonder what that means, I have an idea, but I’ll sit on it for now. All in all, a brief, but violent heavyweight clash, something you don’t get with a Klitchko.
What else Happened…..
Hot prospect, Amir Imam (11-0-10K) outworked Yordenis Ugas (15-2-7k), former Olympic Bronze (’08) medal winner from Cuba over 8rds. Both guys shook each other up in the first rd. and preferred to pretty much box the rest of the way. Entertaining, but a little too much feinting, and stylin’ for the crowd. They were Jr welters and Imam hustled enough, winning the last round clearly, to stay unbeaten. One of the best fights of the night was another Jr. welter scrap between Abel Ramos 9-0-1-5k), 2012 Olympian from Phoenix, and Levan Ghvamichava(11-1-8k)in an action-packedsixer. Ramos was the crowd favorite but got more than he was looking for as he was cut over the right eye early. Ramos has a lotta’ talent, but Levan came to war and there was enough action to keep the thinning crowd involved. The bout was called a draw, but I think there was a slight edge for Levan. Rodrika Ray(5-8-1-2K) was overmatched and outweighed by 52lbs in a tussle with Razvan Cojanu 9-1-4k). The hulking Razvan simply overpowered the helpless, light-hitting Ray. Ray should ask is management ‘wth were you guys thinking’? A few debilitating body shots caused Ray to call it a day. Mario Barrios (3-0-1k) won aud over Jaxel Marrero (1-2-1k) in a spirited affair between featherweights . In a farce, Caleb Hunter Plant (Debut) blew out a pathetic Travis Davidson (2-2-2k) in less than a minute. How did he have two ko’s? There must not be any real fighters in w. Va, his hometown. I actually missed B.J. Flore’s opening fight. I was told he scored a first rd. ko over a bum. How the HELL, does a supposed world –class fighter (some kinda’ champ at that open, a card before about 200 people?????? All in all a good day (considering my travails), for a Saturday afternoon.