SAN DIEGO, July 16, 2016 – The 11,974 fans in Birmingham, Alabama got exactly what they came to see at the Legacy Arena Saturday, as hometown favorite Deontay “Bomb Squad” Wilder remained undefeated (37-0, 36 KOs) with an eighth round TKO victory over Chris “Nightmare” Arreola (36-5-1, 31 KOs) of Riverside, California.
Wilder won with ease despite suffering a broken right hand and torn right bicep in the fourth round after a flurry of punches caused a knockdown of Arreola. A badly hurt Arreola beat the count, and managed to survive to the end of the round as Wilder tried to close the show.
Trainer Henry Ramirez told Arreola to make the fight ugly. “You’re not going to win a boxing match.” But Arreola could not get near Wilder and excute his game plan of fighting on the inside and going to the body. Wilder kept him at bay for several rounds with little more than left jabs. Those jabs were snapping Arreola’s head back and rolling up damage to Arreola’s face.
Arreola is far too tough and stubborn for his own good. With a cut across the bridge of the nose from a right hand in the second round, a swelling left eye and damage accumulating from the jabs, Arreola was running out of gas in front of everyone’s eyes. He survived a few more rounds, then Wilder shook Arreola up again by banging with left hooks as Arreola tried to work Wilder to the body at the end of the seventh round.
With nothing left on his punches, and the damage piling up, trainer Henry Ramirez wisely stopped the right after the end of the eighth round. He later wrote on Twitter, “We tried our best! Chris a warrior but my job is to PROTECT!!!! Chris in good spirits. Credit to Deontay and his team! Congrats fellas.”
After the fight, Wilder admitted to the injuries observers had wondered about during the fight, telling Kristine Leahy, “As you can see I have my Ali ‘float like a butterfly, sting like a bee trunks,’ I wanted to give you guys a knockout. I broke my hand. I couldn’t show it. Chris is a tough man, I had to fight like a champion and use my jab.”
When asked who he’d like to fight next, Wilder laughed, and said, “My goal is to unify the division, I’m one of the baddest, one of the hardest hitting heavyweight in the business right here from Alabama, baby. I came a long way. So whoever got those belts, that’s what I want. It doesn’t matter if I have a broke hand, a pulled muscle, that’s what champions do.
“I don’t play boxing. Of course I want the Furys, of course I want the Joshuas. The question is: Do they want me?”
There was no post-fight news conference. Wilder was taken directly to a local hospital. Promoter Lou DiBella said ringside physician Dr. David Williams of the Alabama Athletic Commission confirmed the broken right hand and torn bicep. The bicep is the far more serious of the two injuries. It could take Wilder out of the ring for the rest of the year.
Meanwhile, the heavyweight division needs its version of the Harry Potter Sorting Hat to figure out where the top contenders stand. Wilder spent a lot of time in Saturday’s fight entertaining the crowd, but he can’t afford to do anything of the kind against Anthony Joshua or an awkward, unpredictable opponent like Tyson Fury who could give him fits. As good as Joshua has been so far, Joseph Parker of New Zealand may be even stronger. All three men can look the 6 foot 7 Wilder in the eye. Luis Ortiz of Cuba also deserves to be part of the conversation. It’s all welcome by fans of the biggest men in boxing.
Welterweight Sammy Vasquez (21-1, 15 KOs) of Pennsylvania suffered his first defeat to a determined Felix Diaz of the Dominican Republic (18-1, 8 KOs) in a unanimous decision.
Vasquez was off his game from the opening bell. Despite his five-inch height and four inch reach advantage on Diaz, he could not keep Diaz off. Vasquez’s jab was missing in action while Diaz negated these advantages in the first few rounds with good timing and using the upward angle for good upper cuts.
As the fight wore on, Diaz showed increased confidence while Vasquez appeared puzzled by what he was seeing. He had no answers. Vasquez took damage to the face and began bleeding from the mouth. It appeared he had suffered internal cuts. Twice in the eighth round, Vasquez’s mouthpiece came out. The referee issued a warning about the mouthpiece situation. When it came out again in the tenth round, the referee took a point away from Vasquez. It turned out to be pivotal.
Initially, the fight was scored 96-94 for Diaz by one judge, and 95-95 on the remaining scorecards for a majority draw. As boxing media and fans expressed their disappointment and then started doing the math, the Alabama Boxing Commission called the cards back and recalculated. The point taken away from Vasquez hadn’t been applied. The new scorecards had it 96-93 and 95-94 X 2 for a unanimous decision in favor of Diaz, the right result. While it was messy, credit to the Alabama Commission, which was at least honest enough to admit the mistake and make it right.
Whether Vasquez’s lackluster performance was due to being out of the ring for six months, or some other issue, he will have a lot to work on back in the gym. For Diaz, it’s fortunately he didn’t get robbed of the decision he deserved. He now deserves a good opportunity against a quality opponent in the welterweight division. There are plenty of good choices.
Erickson “Hammer” Lubin of Orlando, Florida (16-0, 11 KOs) got in a full eight rounds of work against tough Mexican opponent Ivan Montero (20-2, 8 KOs). All three judges gave it to Lubin in an 80-72 shutout. The 20 year old super welterweight was back in the ring just four weeks after a strong third round knockout on the Fonfara vs. Smith undercard in Chicago. This is precisely what a young boxer still learning his craft should. Lubin has the goods, and the more time he spends at this stage getting in work, the better he will be as he hits his stride in his mid-20s. Keep your eye on him.
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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