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Arreola vs. Witherspoon and Berto vs. Rodriquez This Saturday

Andre Berto Chazz Witherspoon Chris ArreolaBy Jason Kim: In what will likely be an exciting card with two huge unbeaten heavyweight prospects Chazz Witherspoon (23-0, 15 KOs) and the powerful Chris Arreola (23-0, 21 KOs) going at each other on the undercard, and top welterweight contenders Andre Berto (21-0, 18 KOs) and little known Miguel Angel Rodriguez (29-2, 23 KOs) facing off in the main event for the vacant WBC welterweight title.

The fight between the two heavyweights Arreola and Witherspoon may turn out to be the most exciting fight of the fight, for it matches two top heavyweights against each other, each with unbeaten records. Arreola, 27, ranked #10 in the WBO and IBF, is known for his knockout power and his heavy pressure. At 6’4″ 245 lbs, Arreola has the size to match up with the equally big 6’4″ 230 lbs Witherspoon. Arreola, however, is known more for his brawling style of fighting, which has allowed him to knockout 21 of his 23 opponents, rather than his boxing ability. Indeed, Arreola rarely ever attempts to box, use his jab or try and finesse his opponents in the ring. Instead, he makes no secret about what he’s going to try and do, namely take his opponents’ head off with every punch. He has tremendous power in both hands and has a large assortment of effective weaponry at his disposal, from wide hooks, uppercuts and straight rights. Unlike most heavyweights, Arreola is equally dangerous with either hand and can score knockouts using either his right or land hand.

He often doesn’t allow his opponents to establish their jabs or set up any kind of defense, as he pours right in on them throwing big shots without knockout intentions on them. In a way, he’s like large version of Ricky Hatton, fighting all out and thinking little about defense. That, unfortunately, leaves him open for a lot of shots as he’s coming inside, where he usually likes to work, and causes him to get hit quite frequently. Still, his lack of defense hasn’t harmed him at this point in his career due to his lack of quality opposition that he’s faced.

Also, his hand speed is rather poor and because of that, he’s easy to time his shots and counter him. He often winds up big for shots, telegraphing them badly in the process. And, because of his style of throwing a lot of punches per round, he seems to tire slightly as the rounds move beyond the 5th, causing him to breath hard and take a lot of head shots. Fortunately for him, it hasn’t been a huge problem for him because of the exclusively soft opposition that he’s faced thus far, but it may end up hurting him against Witherspoon on Saturday night. Arreola has looked good against his B & C level opponents, beating the likes of Malcolm Tann, Damian Wills and Cliff Couser, all by knockouts.

As for Witherspoon, 26, the cousin of former boxing heavyweight great Tim Witherspoon, he is the exact opposite of Arreola in almost every way you can imagine. Witherspoon is an excellent boxer, using jab constantly and has a superb left hook that he uses on his opponents to wear them down. His work rate is also quite good, better than most heavyweights in the division. He fights somewhat like Wladimir Klitschko, whom he has sparred with in the past while assisting him for upcoming fights. It seems while sparring with Klitschko, a lot of his boxing skills have rubbed off on Witherspoon along the way.

He generally fights smart, using his height and reach to keep shorter fighters on the outside. However, he does at times make the mistake of trying to slug too much with his more limited opponents. This might be a mistake for him if he falls into that trap against Arreola. However, Witherspoon’s chin is top notch and he can take a heck of a shot without any problems. Unlike Klitschko, Witherspoon can fight well on the inside, where he uses an uppercut, short hooks, and clubbing right hands to chop down his shorter opponents. He may prove to be more than a handful for Arreola, who will find a fighter that is more than a match for him on the inside and one who is clearly better than him on the outside.

Indeed, Witherspoon is a nonstop puncher at any distance and with his excellent work rate and good chin, he’s going to present some major issues for Arreola. I see Witherspoon as winning this fight by a comfortable margin. Not only does he have better overall boxing skills, but his chin, speed, work rate and jab are much superior to that of Arreola.

In the main event, unbeaten Andre Berto (21-0, 18 KOs) will be going up against Miguel Angel Rodriguez (29-2, 23 KOs) for the vacant WBC welterweight title, which came open suddenly with the recent retirement of a couple of weeks ago. Berto, 24, can do it all – punch with power, speed and accuracy and box incredibly well. In terms of excitement, he may very well be the most exciting welterweight in the division by far. His fights are incredibly entertaining and due to his sometimes issues with his chin, he brings a certain drama into his bouts with him. Most of his opponents, however, are unable to land enough shots to test his chin. With Mayweather out of boxing, Berto make take over as the top welterweight in the division, although I’m sure Miguel Cotto, Antonio Margarito and Paul Williams may have something to say about that.

Not much is known about Berto’s opponent Rodriguez, other than he’s 29, has fought next to nobody of any real note other than Carlos Baldomir, who beat him by a 12-round unanimous decision in 2005. Rodriguez is, however, ranked #2 in the WBC, which means he must be awfully good or has powerful friends in high places. Unfortunately for him, his friends won’t be the ones fighting for him on Saturday, and without his lack of any real boxing pedigree, one would expect to see him get planted in the first couple of rounds.

He might get lucky, if Berto wants to prolong the fight and make him suffer, and have the fight drag into perhaps the 6th round, but that’s about as far as I see this fight going. This seems to be a mismatch on paper, but I sure hope I’m wrong because I’d like to see a good fight.

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