Boxing can learn much from Arreola in the final stage of his career
In the last few years, I’ve found myself asking questions about heavyweight boxer Chris Arreola.
Perhaps it’s the lasting effects of a decision in 2016 to travel by car with a friend from Colorado to Birmingham, Alabama to take in my first heavyweight title fight between Arreola and WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder.
Truthfully, I was there to see Wilder, but I’ve also followed Arreola’s career from when I first began following boxing in the early 2000s. I remember his loss to Vitali Klitschko and watching on a less than reliable internet stream as he lost to Tomasz Amadek. There were also victories against Seth Michell and Eric Molina that stuck out in my mind. Still, I’ve always thought Arreola could be a much better fighter if he could just put it all together.
Earlier this year, I remember asking myself as I looked at the ticket stub from the Wilder fight: what happened to Arreola? Did he retire? Man, that guy was a banger!
It turns out that he was gearing up for an impressive comeback at age 38, and it’s one that should serve as an example to others about the importance of continually trying to reach a goal, even if — as is the case with Arreola — the goal of a world heavyweight championship, may never be reached.
On the undercard of the Errol Spence Mikey Garcia pay per view in March, the boxing world was introduced to a new Arreola; a slimmer, stronger, seemingly more content heavyweight contender. In mere moments, fans would see that this new version was still capable of landing thunderous punches as the California native stopped an undefeated Jean Pierre Augustin in the third round.
“He’s back!,” I said to myself following the fight. In a division where one punch can mean so much, I didn’t doubt his chances to again, for a fourth time, land an eventual title opportunity. Even if that never happened, I knew fans would be treated to another exciting heavyweight.
The excitement that Arreola can bring was evident in a unanimous decision loss Saturday night in Brooklyn, New York against Adam Kownacki, (20-0 15 KOs).
Kownacki as expected, landed many hard shots early to Arreola’s chin and at times rocked the former three-time heavyweight title contender.
Arreola, responded with hard hooks of his own and effective lead rights from the outside. Often, he would reply to Kownacki’s assaults with a smile as if to say, man, I love competing in a boxing ring.
Perhaps that’s the take away to Arreola’s final stage of his career.
There’s something to be said for loving what you do and continually working towards a goal that’s eluded you. Sure, the end of a journey comes for each of us, but Arreola proved that pushing towards a goal is possible even later in life for those willing to sacrifice and take their pursuit seriously.
He also proved that success can sometimes take a back seat to simply enjoying what you’re doing. In fact, realizing the enjoyment of the sport — as seemed evident in the fight Saturday night — may be his biggest success.
While he didn’t win the fight, and Kownacki’s come-forward, relentless style will be a challenge for any of the heavyweight titlists in the future, the two managed to set a heavyweight record for the number of punches thrown with an impressive 2,162, breaking the record set in 1997 by David Tua and Ike Ibeabuchi.
Arreola (38-6-1 33 KOs), said leading up to the fight that if he lost, he would retire. If he does decide to hang up the gloves, he should relish in the fact that he did not embarrass himself or the sport of boxing in his late-age comeback attempt. His effort was one that entertained and showed that goals are continually worth striving towards.
To me, that’s Arreola’s biggest victory of all.