By David A. Avila
Chris “The Nightmare” Arreola faces another Mexican-American heavyweight Eric Molina who’s looking to bump the Riverside heavyweight contender from a possible date for the WBC heavyweight world title.
Arreola (34-2, 29 KOs) will be fighting Molina (18-1, 14 KOs) in his home state of Texas on Saturday Feb. 18. Though both are fighting for a national title much more is at stake. Showtime will televise the fight card from Corpus Christi, Texas.
It’s been almost two and a half years since Arreola fought Vitali Klitschko for the WBC heavyweight title and lost. A win over Molina could score a showdown with WBA, IBF and WBO titleholder Wladimir Klitschko in the summer. That’s the goal.
“There’s a lot on the line,” said Henry Ramirez who trains Arreola. “There’s a good chance Chris gets Klitschko next if he wins.”
A year ago Arreola arrived on the scales at a robust 249 pounds to fight Joey Abell. And though he dispensed with the Minnesota heavyweight in 2:18 of the first round, few put a star over his name. The excess weight seemed to sap interest in the Riverside resident who looked fleshy to television viewers and was criticized.
Since that time Arreola has stripped off 15 pounds and looks to prove that a disparity in talent exists between him and other Mexican-American heavyweights like Molina. Wins over Nagy Aguilera, Kendrick Releford, Friday Ahunanya and Raphael Butler took place in 2011 and showed many that Arreola has that hunger to perform in the prize ring.
Molina lives in Raymondville and fights for Don King and has stirred up interest in the Lone Star state as a potential money-maker. A win on Saturday could topple a world title bid for Arreola and perhaps put Molina in the championship derby.
“Molina is a dangerous fighter because a win over Chris could put him in position to fight Klitschko,” Ramirez said.
The Texas heavyweight is slightly taller with a leaner body frame than Arreola but he’s yet to face the same talent pool as the Californian. Molina’s only loss came in his pro debut when he was stopped in one round by Ashanti Jordan.
No one accuses Arreola of being void of talent and though he’s been ranked on the top 10 for the last three years he’s yearned for another world title opportunity and the large purse that comes with it.
Emanuel Steward, who trains Wladimir Klitschko, said that Arreola has the tools and X-factor needed to produce an exciting fight.
“People love knockouts,” said Steward while in California recently. “Chris Arreola has that style that people love because he’s not trying to out-box you, he’s trying to knock you out. Fans love his style. I love his style.”
The younger Klitschko has run through the ranks of the heavyweight contenders and needs Arreola to step past Molina to set up a heavyweight collision with the Riverside prizefighter.
Former welterweight and junior middleweight world champion Paul “The Punisher” Williams (40-2, 27 KOs) returns to face Japan’s Nobuhiro Ishida (24-6-2, 9 KOs) in a 12-round match on the Goossen-Tutor Promotions fight card.
Williams last fought in July 2011 against Cuba’s Erislandy Lara and won a controversial decision that led to the suspension of three judges. Most but not all observers thought Williams should have lost the decision.
“I thought that was bull crap,” said Williams about the suspension of three judges for their scores. “It’s not like the judges were off by more than one point. It was one point.”
The lean southpaw Williams fights Ishida whose biggest win came against heavy-hitting James Kirkland. The Japanese boxer floored Kirkland three times en route to a first round knockout shocking win. After the fight Ishida was literally running up and down the aisles of the massive MGM Grand with a Japanese flag rejoicing in victory. It was quite a sight. Will he be able to repeat?
“I didn’t expect to get a knockout against Kirkland. You never really expect that. I’m not sure about a knockout against Paul Williams, but I think I will get the win,” said Ishida during a conference call. “I’m going to make it a very long night for Paul Williams.”
Fights on television
Fri. ESPN2, 6 p.m. Mike Dallas (17-2-1) vs. Miguel Gonzalez (20-2).
Fri. Showtime, 11 p.m., Thomas Dulorme (13-0) vs. Aris Ambriz (16-2-1).
Sat. Showtime, 7 p.m., Chris Arreola (34-2) vs. Eric Molina (18-1).
Sat. Telefutura, 11:30 p.m., Miguel Robles (10-1-2) vs. Jose Cota (8-6).