SAN DIEGO, July 15, 2016 – Most boxing fans were disappointed when American heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder’s fight with mandatory challenger Alexander Povetkin of Russia was called off due to Povetkin’s drug testing failure. But not all of them.
Instead of fighting in Russia, Wilder’s next fight is at home in Birmingham, Alabama. Wilder’s opponent is two-time title challenger Chris Arreola of Riverside, California. Wilder and Arreola meet in the main event Saturday night at Legacy Arena, broadcast on the Fox Network at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT.
Arreola (36-4-1, 31 KOs) freely admits he doesn’t really deserve the title shot against Wilder (36-0, 35 KOs) for his WBC belt. Arreola, who hopes to become the first Mexican heavyweight champion, says nevertheless he’s going to make the most of the opportunity.
After Wilder flattened Polish heavyweight Artur Szpilka in January, he said he’d rather fight British champion Tyson Fury than Povetkin. At the time, Fury’s dance card was already filled with a rematch against Wladimir Klitschko scheduled July 9. The fight was postponed due to Fury’s ankle injury, and has yet to be rescheduled. So it was Povetkin, until it wasn’t.
With the open date, Wilder and Premier Boxing took on the fan friendly Arreola as the next best option despite less than impressive performances over his last few bouts including a decision against Travis Kauffman and a draw against Fred Kassi.
“I’m positive he’s overlooking me. He’s already thinking about fighting (Anthony) Joshua or (Tyson) Fury, that’s a bad move because I’m here,” said Arreola. Arreola has a reputation for not applying himself in the gym, but weighed in at a solid looking 246.2 pounds on Friday. The taller Wilder weighed in at a ripped 226.2 pounds. As the pair posed for photos, Arreola and Wilder held up signs with arrows pointing to each other that read, “His Life Matters.”
Arreola says he intends to win, but the only way he can get the victory is via a knockout, not trusting the judges in Alabama to see a decision his way. “The biggest worry about Deontay is the distance,” said Arreola. “I cannot stand outside. I’ll be like bubble gum, chewed up and spit out.” Arreola says he intends to avoid the lethal Wilder right hand, and go to the body to break Wilder down.
“My plan is to win this Saturday, make an impact, and show you can come from anywhere, have a lot of downfalls in your life, pick yourself up and make it happen. I’m not scared of Wilder. I fear no man. That’s why we have two hands. It’s an even fight. I respect him.”
Only one man has taken Wilder the distance as a professional, Bermane Stiverne. Two of Arreola’s losses are to Stiverne, both by middle round knockouts. While most experts expect the same in Saturday’s fight, Arreola knows he has to go for broke, and he’s in a desperate situation. Desperate fighters with power can be dangerous. For as long as it lasts, it’s sure to be entertaining for fans.
The co-main event also features a late substitution. Undefeated welterweight Sammy Vasquez (21-0, 15 KOs) of Pennsylvania was scheduled to fight Luis Collazo. When Collazo was injured, 2012 Olympic gold medalist Felix Diaz of the Dominican Republic (17-1, 8 KOs) took the bout.
This is the first fight for Vasquez in six months. He needed to get back in the ring and in front of fans no matter who stood across from him. Diaz has been out of the ring nine months. Vasquez is coming off a sixth round TKO of Aron Martinez, who did not come out for the seven round due to an arm injury. Diaz is coming off a majority decision loss to Lamont Peterson, a good effort that just fell short.
Diaz was scheduled to fight Levan “The Wolf” Ghvamichava in last Tuesday’s “Toe to Toe” event in California, but stepped up to Saturday’s bout. He may be glad for the switch, as Ghvamichava scored an impressed knockout win over Breidis Prescott and looks to be a serious prospect at welterweight.
Vasquez has a made-for-TV backstory; he is a U.S. Army National Guard veteran with two tours of duty in Iraq. He is fan friendly and easy to root for. Both Vasquez and Diaz are southpaws and look to put on a good show. Both weighed in under the welterweight 147 pound limit; Vasquez at 146.8 pounds, Diaz and 145.8 pounds.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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