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Cris Arreola, Its Going To Hurt When He Hits The Canvas

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LOS ANGELES - Vitali Klitschko, the WBC heavyweight champ, and Cris Arreola, the No.1 contender, held an open workout at Muscle Beach in Venice, Calif., on Wednesday. It was designed to whet the appetite of boxing fans for Saturday night's 12-round title match at the Staples Center.

Only Klitschko, a chiseled 6-7, 252-pound specimen, could hold his own at Muscle Beach with the regulars. Arreola, 6-4, 251 pounds, not so much. Arreola actually weighed in first at 272 before revealing that he was wearing a weight belt under a T-shirt to mess with fans who have been critical of his weight.

Fitness has never been Arreola's forte. His weight has swung from 230 pounds against Zaheem Graham in 2007 to a career-high 258-1/2 pounds against Israel Garcia on Sept.25, 2008. He has achieved his 27-0 record through brute force and power. He has KO'd 24 opponents and has gone the distance just once. The other two victories have come via disqualification. But 36 of Klitschko's 37 fights have ended by knockout. So he's no slouch in the power department either.

Arreola said too much has been made of his weight and that it won't be a problem, because he doesn't envision the fight going the distance. "It's not gonna go far, plain and simple," Arreola said. "It's gonna be a knockout fight and it's gonna be an exciting fight. It's something in the heavyweight division the fans have been waiting a long time for."

He is right about the division needing a shot of excitement. Klitschko and his brother, Wladimir, control three of the four major titles in the division. Wladimir has the WBO and IBF titles, while Vitali has the WBC crown. Neither brother will be headlining at the Laugh Factory anytime soon. But they do represent the most polished and accomplished boxers in the division. However, Arreola is deluding himself thinking that Klitschko is an easy mark, and that he will be standing there waiting for Arreola to connect with his chin. If he believes that, then the stars sitting ringside won't be the only ones he sees during the fight. Arreola, 28, believes that Klitschko is selling him short because of his limited experience in big fights. "One thing that kind of bugs me: I feel like I've been taken lightly," said Arreola.

"I feel like they already think that it's a cakewalk. Now they already have a date for December. They can still fight in December, but it isn't going be for the world title. I'm gonna win it. I respect Mr. Klitschko. I respect him as a man and as a fighter, but inside the ring everything is outside the door and it's time to fight."

If Arreola is going to have any shot at keeping Klitschko from depositing him on the canvas with a big right hand before the night is over, he'd better be in the best shape of his life and he'd better bring the bag that includes his best boxing skills.

Henry Ramirez, Arreola's trainer, said it was difficult to find sparring partners to emulate Klitschko's style because he is so tall and big. He believes that Klitschko might have also found it hard to find sparring partners to duplicate what Arreola brings. "The thing about Chris that is hard to emulate is the pressure that Chris brings is unlike any other. You cannot emulate it," Ramirez said. "It is pressure that is unbelievable, and he (Klitschko) has never been in with it. I agree this fight won't go the distance, but unlike everybody else, I feel the longer it goes the better it is for Chris."

The problem with most boxers who fight for a title for the first time, particularly against a seasoned champion such as Klitschko, is that they don't realize how much they have to elevate their game just to compete. Arreola said he will have some additional motivation when he steps into the ring. "It's going to be a changing of the guard. Very simple. The steel curtain is closed and now I own it. It's gonna be my time," Arreola said. "I'm gonna bring emotion as far as determination to win the title for Mexicans and Mexican-Americans to celebrate, and determination to keep the title out here in the United States. That's my main goal."


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