The old adage is “as go the heavyweights, so goes boxing.” Well, if more heavyweight fights were as entertaining as Bermane Stiverne’s 6th round stoppage of Chris Arreola on ESPN, boxing might be more popular.
Stiverne (24-1-1, 21 KO) was way behind on my card at the time of the stoppage. He was being outworked in every round and seemed a bit languid. When he did land, however, he was hurting Arreola. He just wasn’t landing much.
Arreola (36-4, 31 KO) had pressed the action from the outset. He was getting off first, which was keeping Stiverne on the ropes or in a corner. He had Stiverne hurt in the the 2nd and 3rd rounds.
Then it all came unglued. A single right hook landed on Arreola’s temple, sent him squirrelly and rendered his legs useless. Arreola managed to beat referee Jack Reiss’ count (getting several precious extra seconds as Reiss ordered Stiverne back to a neutral corner), but he couldn’t keep Stiverne from dropping him again with a vicious combination. Arreola again beat the count, but his eyes were completely glassed over. He nearly fell back down when using the ropes to steady himself. Reiss could have stopped it right then and no one would have objected. He let it continue, though, but stepped in a few moments later to save Arreola from taking any more punches.
The fight was entertaining for a variety of reasons. Two heavyweights who can really punch are always enjoyable. It was also fought at brisk pace by heavyweight standards. The loss potentially relegates Arreola to gatekeeper status, but that’s one scary gate. He is still good enough to give most top ten heavyweights not named Klitschko a hellacious evening.
Which brings me to Stiverne vs. Deontay Wilder
Um… Yes please.
Both of those guys can punch and neither is hard to find. If that fight happens and manages to last the distance, I’ll paint my toenails pink. It has war written all over it.
In the co-feature, junior welterweight Amir Imam pulled out a unanimous decision over former Cuban olympian Yordenis Ugas. The early rounds belonged to Ugas, but Imam took over down the stretch and landed the more meaningful punches. Imam (14-0, 12 KO) was supposed to be a puncher but didn’t look it. His best work came when he stepped to Ugas (15-3, 7 KO) which he did quite sparingly. Ugas initiated most exchanges, even though he missed with many of his punches or just stood there when he should have been throwing. The judges returned scores of 79-73 and 78-74 twice for Imam. TQBR scored it 77-75, favoring Imam’s cleaner and harder punches.
Rabies Watch: Teddy Atlas plays favorites. He clearly developed some kind of bond with Arreola and it came out in bursts of shouting, cheering, and snarling. The only time he was quiet was after the second knockdown. At that point, he went completely silent. It was glorious.