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Deontay Wilder vs. Chris Arreola on July 16

Chris Arreola Deontay Wilder

By Eric Baldwin: WBC heavyweight champion Deontay “Bronze Bomber” Wilder (36-0, 35 KOs) will reportedly be defending his title against 35-year-old former two-time world title challenger Chris Arreola (36-4-1, 31 KOs) on July 16 at the Legacy Arena in Birmingham, Alabama.

This news isn’t going to make many boxing fans happy, because Arreola has won only one fight in the last three years of his career. Arreola’s record since 2013 is 1-1-1 with 1 fight scored as a no contest. That’s not good when you’re considering that Arreola is being given a world title shot.

Arreola isn’t ranked in the World Boxing Council’s top 40 at this time, and he’s not ranked in the top 15 by any of the other three sanctioning bodies. It would seem that Arreola is getting the title shot against Wilder based on his past accomplishments in years gone by rather than what he’s done in the last three years or his career.

The WBC is giving Wilder, 30, a voluntary defense while they decide on what to do with #1 WBC Alexander Povetkin, who recently tested positive for Medonium. That fight could still take place later this year for Wilder if he gets past Arreola on July 16. Wilder would be getting a big payday if he does wind up facing Povetkin, so it’s not a bad deal for him if that fight does come off.

“I’m told Deontay Wilder’s heavyweight title defense will be vs Chris Arreola 7/16 at Legacy Arena in Birmingham,” said Dan Rafael on his Twitter.

Wilder has looked shaky at times since winning his WBC title last year against Bermane Stiverne. Wilder has since been given three voluntary defenses, which he used to defeat Eric Molina, Johann Duhuapas and Artur Szpilka. The Arreola fight will be Wilder’s fourth voluntary defense. That’s twice as many voluntary defenses as champions are usually given.

Wilder probably needs as many voluntary defenses as he can get, because he looks very raw still at this point in his eight-year pro career. Wilder looks amateurish and badly in need of more seasoning due to him not having much of an amateur career.

Arreola clearly has slipped a couple of notches in the last three years of his career from the fighter he once was. However, Arreola still possesses good punching power, and he could KO Wilder if he catches him with one of his big shots like he did Seth Mitchell in September 2013. Arreola stopped Mitchell in round one. That was Arreola’s last impressive performance of his career. Since that time, Arreola has struggled in losing to Bermane Stiverne by a 6th round knockout in May 2014, and then barely beat Curtis Harper in March of last year in winning a close eight round decision.

In Arreola’s last two fights, he fought journeyman Fred Kassi to a controversial 10 round draw last July in a fight many boxing fans thought Kassi should have won, and then beating Travis Kauffman by a very close 12 round split decision last December. That fight result was overturned and ruled a no contest after Arreola failed the post-fight drug test.

Arreola has a chance to beat Wilder if he can apply enough pressure early on in the fight. Arreola cannot afford to wait until the later rounds for him to try and take Wilder out, because he might not make it to the later rounds. Wilder is too dangerous for Arreola to be fighting passively. He’s got to go for broke early. Arreola took bad beatings in his two defeats to Stiverne. The same thing could happen to Arreola in this fight if he doesn’t jump on Wilder in the first two rounds.

Wilder, 6’7”, still hasn’t faced a high quality fighter during his career. Arreola is around the same level as Wilder’s recent opponents Duhaupas, Szpilka and Molina. Arreola is probably a little more dangerous than those guys because he’s got better power, and he’s shown that he’s willing to go right after his opponents to bang them out. That doesn’t always work for Arreola, as we observed in his defeats against Vitali Klitachko, Tomasz Adamek and Stiverne. However, Arreola has found a lot of success with his fighting style during his career, and he could be a real nightmare for Wilder if he’s unable to get him out of there early. Wilder cannot afford to leave Arreola hanging around for long because he’ll catch him with one of his powerful left hooks sooner or later.

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