It has been a relatively quiet week for boxing. The last month has provided a steady stream of top level action and the rest of May, June and July are also shaping up nicely. So this past weekend represents only a brief lull in the action. There was however one meaningful bout on this weekend.
The heavyweight division got a much needed injection of new blood on Saturday night. Since Wladimir Klitschko easily out pointed David Haye almost three years ago, all four of the major heavyweight belts had been held by the Klitschko brothers. Vitali’s decision to focus on his political career in December 2013 created a vacancy at the heavyweight championship table.
On Saturday night two pretenders to the throne met for Vitali’s vacated WBC title. Bermane Stiverne and Chris Arreola had met once before, just over a year ago when Stiverne broke Arreola’s nose on the way to a clear decision victory. Both men came to the ring with intriguing back stories. Arreola, although born in Los Angeles is of Mexican descent. Despite Mexico’s long and illustrious boxing history, Arreola was bidding to become the first ever Mexican to win a heavyweight title. He had previously failed in two attempts to win a title; against Vitali Klitschko in 2009 and against Tomasz Adamek in 2010. Arreola has been notorious in the past for his failure to turn up in fighting shape, regularly coming to the ring overweight and out of shape. However, on Saturday night he was determined to seize his big chance and weighed in at his lowest weight for three years.
Stiverne too provided a colourful back-story. Born in Haiti, Stiverne is the youngest boy in a family of 14 children. From the age of 10 he lived first in Miami and later in Montreal. After a mediocre amateur career, representing Canada, Stiverne turned professional in 2005 at the age of 26. Like Arreola, Stiverne too was seeking an historic first – the first Haitian born fighter to win a heavyweight title.
Arreola started the fight well. His conditioning was, for once, up to scratch and this allowed him to be the busier fighter. He repeatedly backed Stiverne against the ropes and was winning rounds. However, in the heavyweight division, power counts big time and it was Stiverne who possessed the more powerful punch. In the 6th round his power told. A right hook landed on Arreola’s temple and although not the most devastating of punches, by landing on the temple it severely disrupted Arreola’s balance. His legs were immediately gone. He staggered backwards then forwards stumbling into the ropes. Arreola did beat the count but his balance had deserted him and he was a sitting duck for Stiverne. The Haitian kept the pressure on, dropping the wobbly Arreola again before eventually the referee stopped the fight.
Watch extended highlights of the clash here:
The biggest downside to Stiverne winning is that he is promoted by Don King. Once again King has his hands on a portion of the heavyweight title. His post fight press conference showed he can still talk with the best of them as his rant covered JFK, law and ethics, race relations, the Biblical tale of Samson and Delilah and a little bit of boxing.
In Liverpool on Saturday night Derry Mathews regained the lightweight title with a hard fought victory over Martin Gethin. The undercard featured the continued development of some of Britain’s most promising young boxers with Tom Stalker, Hughie Fury and Kid Galahad all scoring relatively comfortable victories.
From an Irish perspective there were two noteworthy developments this week. On the positive side we saw Donegal middleweight Jason Quigley turn professional by signing with Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions. Quigley will make his debut in Las Vegas on July 12th, on the undercard of Mexican sensation, Canelo Alvarez’, bout with Cuban Erislandy Lara.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t all good news for Irish boxing this week. Cork-based Cuban heavyweight contender Mike Perez was due to fight American Bryant Jennings in a WBC title eliminator on May 24th. Perez however, suffered a shoulder injury in training that has ruled him out of that bout. Also cancelled as a result, is Matthew Macklin’s clash with Daniel Geale which was to be the chief support fight on the card. The extent of Perez’ injury is not yet known but hopefully he will be back in action soon and will not miss out on his title eliminator opportunity.
Michael McCarthy, Pundit Arena.