Citizens Business Bank Arena: It will host two big-name fights on Nov. 29, one for a title.
By DAVID A. AVILA
The biggest prizefighting event in the history of the Inland area takes place this month.
Two internationally recognized boxers are preparing for a big splash in a brand new arena when WBO welterweight titleholder Paul Williams and Riverside's heavyweight sensation Chris Arreola partake in their bouts.
Williams (35-1, 26 KOs), a wiry tall Southern gentleman from Georgia, once again moves outside of his regular weight division to challenge IBF junior middleweight titleholder Verno Phillips (42-10-1, 21 KOs) for his title. And Riverside's undefeated Arreola (25-0, 22 KOs) matches youthful talent against Florida's once-beaten Travis Walker (28-1-1, 22 KOs).
The two clashes will be Citizens Business Bank Arena's first foray into big-time boxing on Nov. 29, in Ontario.
Arreola is physically the biggest boxer the Inland area has ever seen and is eager to seize a title opportunity. Many expect the hard-hitting heavyweight to meet his greatest challenge in less than two weeks when he fights Walker.
Does anything scare Arreola, whose nickname is the "Nightmare"?
"I'm a little taken aback by the fans," said Arreola, who stands 6-foot-4 and weighs about 240 pounds. "It scares you a lot to be recognized for the first time in your life."
With more than a half-dozen of his recent fights on television, Arreola is capturing the imagination of fight fans who like his aggressive nonstop action. It's not by accident that he fights in this manner.
"I want to have a fight like (the late) Diego Corrales and Jose Luis Castillo in their first fight. I want people to talk about it for weeks," said Arreola, who attends as many matches as possible. "I want a fight that people talk about for the right reasons. I don't want somebody to say that I was in a fight where nobody did anything."
Boxing experts say Arreola lacks perfection with certain technical skills, such as punching off balance, leaving his hands out too long after delivering a punch and absorbing too many punches. But one thing they all agree on is the Riverside boxer fires more punches in quicker fashion than any heavyweight they've seen in years.
"He's a volume puncher," said Henry Ramirez, who prepares Arreola for all of his fights. "Another thing that is underrated is his accuracy. He usually hits what he aims for."
It's a deadly combination.
Tom Brown, matchmaker for Goossen-Tutor Promotions, said that Arreola also has two other ingredients necessary to become a top-flight heavyweight contender.
"He has a tremendous chin," said Brown, who first tested Arreola against Domonic Jenkins, who caught the Riverside heavyweight with a perfect uppercut. In the end, Jenkins was knocked out by Arreola.
"Chris is also the type of guy who can be behind all night long and end it with one punch. He has one-punch knockout power."
Arreola has one more attribute that even his former opponents can see: a raw and rock-solid competitiveness.
In Big Bear, Arreola has been training for weeks in the high altitude with a number of high level heavyweights, including Damian "Bolo" Wills.
If that name is familiar it's because they fought each other two years ago, and to date it was their toughest fight in their professional careers.
Normally, fighters of this quality do not spar, especially after clashing in one of the best heavyweight fights of 2006. But they have their reasons.
Like the motion picture "Rocky III," when Apollo Creed offered to train and spar Rocky Balboa before his match with Clubber Lang, Wills has offered his services to Arreola.
"The first time we sparred it was like round eight," said Arreola, who won by seventh-round technical knockout against Wills in a competitive bout in Las Vegas. "It seems like that fight is still continuing. It seems like we hate each other in the ring, but outside the ring we're real cool. We're like friends."
Wills was undefeated when he fought Arreola and like the Riverside fighter, he has an ultra competitive spirit in and out of the ring. He also has his reasons for helping Arreola prepare for his next fight with Walker.
"I think it's good for Chris because I bring a lot more to the table than he'll see with Travis Walker," said Wills, who fights out of Los Angeles. "I want him to win because I have a dream of fighting Chris (Arreola) again."
So they bang on each other with a vengeance every day.
"We don't take it easy. Why should I?" Wills said. "We go at it. That's what I like about Chris, he's very competitive also."
Wills foresees in the near future that Arreola will win a world title and, when that happens, it will be the Riverside fighter's obligation to return the favor.
"He'll get there before me 'cause he's in a better position. But I'm hoping he is successful on that journey," said Wills, who plans to make big strides in 2009. "Then, I want that fight with Chris."
Arreola likes the idea of fighting Wills again.
"It was my night when we fought the first time. It would be a great fight with two California fighters going at it again," said Arreola of a second match with Wills. "It's funny the way it is now. We talk, we play video games against each other, we're friends, but there is still that competitiveness between each other."
So every day around noon Wills and Arreola bang the heck out of each other with no more than six people watching.
But in two weeks Arreola expects to fight Walker in front of more than 10,000 fight fans at the Citizen Business Bank Arena.
Wills will be watching closely.
Goossen Tutor Promotions
Goossen Tutor Promotions