It’s been more than a year since fight fans last saw Chris Arreola in a boxing ring, a hiatus that now ranks as the longest of his nearly 14-year professional career.

Chris Arreola

(Ryan Hafey/Premier Boxing Champions)

Given the miles on the three-time heavyweight title challenger’s odometer (201 rounds over 42 fights), age (36) and recent results (2-2-1 record since 2013, plus one no contest), some might assume Arreola has reached the end of the line. That assumption would be wrong—but not by much.
 
Always a straight shooter both in and out of the ring, Chris Arreola (36-5-1, 31 KOs) acknowledges his most recent fight—a one-sided, eighth-round stoppage loss to undefeated world champion Deontay Wilder on July 16, 2016 —left him in a “funk” from which he’s just now beginning to emerge. But emerging he is—so much so that the man who enjoys the rigors of training as much as a child enjoys vaccinations says he’s looking forward to getting back in the gym in hopes of making his ring return before year’s end.
 
That said, Arreola admits his finish line is within sight. While the lifelong Southern Californian would love a fourth opportunity to fulfill his dream of being the first boxer of Mexican heritage to become heavyweight champion, he understands the increased risk aging fighters assume when they step between the ropes. And the proud father of two children—15-year-old daughter Danae and 2-year-old son Alex—wants to make sure his mental and physical faculties are intact when he does finally hang up the gloves.
 
We recently caught up with always-affable Arreola to discuss family life, as well as his boxing future, his fighting past, his lifelong devotion to the Los Angeles Dodgers and a potentially drastic change to his voracious diet.
 
How would you characterize the status of your career right now?
 
After the last fight with Wilder, I was a little dejected. I’m actually just now getting out of that funk and getting ready to fight again. Hopefully that will happen soon—within the next 2½, three months. I’d love to get that fourth title shot and leave it all in the ring. Because I don’t want to say, when I’m 40, “I wish I would’ve done that differently.” 
 
How much does having two young children play into your decision to continue boxing?
 
That’s why I’ve taken so much time off. After the Wilder fight, I needed some time to hang out with them and appreciate them a little bit more. That said, spending time with my son makes me want to be smarter in the ring. We’ve seen a lot of bad things that have happened [to fighters recently], and I do think about that a lot now. The thing about it is, if you’re going to step into the ring, you better be ready for a fight.

I’d love to get that fourth title shot and leave it all in the ring. Because I don’t want to say, when I’m 40, 'I wish I would’ve done that differently.' Chris Arreola

Your daughter is a teenager, but your son is a toddler. Did you learn a lot about fatherhood from your first child to your second?
 
I had my daughter when I was young, and I didn’t appreciate her growing up as I do my son now. That may sound wrong, but growing older, I understand fatherhood a whole lot more than I once did, and I appreciate every second that I can spend with my daughter and my son. 
 
Yeah, there’s a big difference in age, but I think that’s a good thing. Shoot, I’ve got a babysitter at home! But seriously, having gone through experiences with my daughter, I’m able to handle things better now with my son. Like I remember this one time when my daughter was young, she was crying and crying, and we couldn’t figure out why she was in so much pain. So we took her to the hospital. Little did we know that we put her shoes on the wrong feet! That was a live-and-learn moment.
 
What’s the post-boxing game plan?
 
You know, that’s exactly what I’m trying to figure out right now. Because I know I’m at the tail end of my boxing career—I give myself three or four more years, if that. All I know is that I want to continue to be involved with boxing in some way. Maybe it’s in front of the camera [as an analyst].
 
Can you see yourself as a boxing coach or a trainer of some sort?
 
Yeah, absolutely. But that would be several years [down the road], because I think I would demand too much of a fighter—I’d demand out of fighters what I gave. And I don’t think too many fighters will give what I’ve given in the ring.
 
What’s the origin of your nickname, “The Nightmare”?
 
Funny story: In about 1998 or 1999, two of my friends and I were going to go to a house party, but first we went to get haircuts. And my haircut was just jacked up. It was horrible! So I went in my house and shaved my head. Now, at the time, I had a lot of acne—it was bad—and then after shaving my head, my [scalp] had a lot of razor burns. My friend comes to pick me up for the party, and he says, “Man, you look like Freddy Kruger!” from the Nightmare on Elm Street movies. From there, it went from Freddy to Kruger to Nightmare. The nickname just evolved—all from a bad haircut.
 
Do you recall the first time you got in a fistfight and the circumstances that led to it?
 
I was in the fourth grade, and one day I was at home doing homework, and my friends came over and kept egging me on, “Come out and play, come out and play!” And I said, “Nah, man, I’m doing homework.” One of my buddies starts yelling at me, “Ahh, schoolboy! You’re such a sissy!” My dad, being old-school Mexican, he hears this, gets mad and says to me, “Are you gonna let them talk to you like that?” I’m like, “Dad, they’re just playing around.” And he says, “Either you go out there and beat their ass, or I’m gonna beat your ass!”
 
Reluctantly, I go outside, and I’m crying. I tell this kid [in a crying voice], “Man, I gotta kick your ass.” But I beat his butt—I mean, I kicked his ass. Then I came back inside and did my homework.
 
Hey, at least you avoided your dad’s fists!
 
Exactly! I was terrified of my father. Still am to this day.
 
What do you recall about the first time you put on a pair of boxing gloves and got in the ring?
 
I’ve been in the boxing world since I was a baby. Back in the day, my dad trained boxers at Hoover’s Street Gym and Broadway Boxing Gym in L.A. I remember the smell, and I remember my mom holding me in her arms as I tried to hit the speedbag. But the first time I actually trained for a fight, I was 7 years old. I kept bugging my dad to train me. And the first time I got in the ring was with my neighbor. My nose got bloodied and he kind of kicked my butt, but I remember not caring. I remember just fighting.
 
Then before my first amateur fight—August of 1989, so I was 8 years old—there was a pair Cleto Reyes decoration boxing gloves that I wanted badly. And my dad said, “If you win the fight, I’ll buy you those gloves.” So I literally chased this kid and made him cry all over the ring, and I got my gloves.
 
If you could spend 20 minutes picking the brain of any fighter in history—living or dead—who would it be?

 
You know, it actually wouldn’t be a fighter. It would probably be [late legendary boxing trainer and manager] Cus D’Amato. He was more than a coach. He was a teacher. And there was a philosophy behind everything he was teaching— a reason why he was teaching you what he was teaching you, a la wax-on, wax-off, Mr. Miyagi type of shit. I would love to have spent some time learn boxing from him.
 
Who’s the one heavyweight in history you wish you could’ve faced?
 
Well, first left me say that, to this day, I can’t believe I’m a heavyweight. Honestly. But one of my favorite fighters who made me a big fan was Riddick Bowe, when he fought Evander Holyfield. Those were some of the most gruesome heavyweight fights. So I would’ve liked to face Riddick Bowe. I think that would’ve been a fun, entertaining fight, because he was a good boxer who always put on a great show.
 
The two biggest names on your ledger are Wilder and Vitali Klitschko, both of whom you faced in world-title bouts. Who was the bigger puncher, and who provided the tougher challenge?
 
They’re both very different hard punchers. Wilder’s is like a whipping punch—it’s like the punch you don’t see coming, but it’s strong. But Klitschko, you could feel his power. When he hit you, it was like a thud. It felt like he wanted to punch through your face. I don’t mean that in a bad way, like he wants to kill you; it’s just what he knows to do.
 
They’re both great movers, but the difference is Wilder is more of an athletic kind of mover, while Klitschko was more of a smart, methodical mover—like he’d take two steps and then he was out of the way. 
 
That would’ve been a great fight between the two of them.
 
What’s the one fight in your career you wish you could go back and do differently—perhaps a fight you were in control of but let slip away?
 
Oh, by far, the second fight with Bermane Stiverne (a fight for a vacant world title in April 2010 that Arreola lost by sixth-round TKO). You know what? I respect Stiverne—you’ve got to love your opponent—but I was winning that fight, and I just got caught. I threw a stupid lazy jab, got caught over the top and I never got my bearings back. That’s definitely a fight I would want back, because that was my opportunity [to be a world champion].
 
Excluding yourself, who’s the best heavyweight in the world right now?
 
I gotta give it up to Wilder, because he’s doing what he’s supposed to be doing. He’s knocking out people he’s supposed to be knocking out, and these guys he’s been fighting are not slouches. The only fighter [fellow undefeated world champion Anthony] Joshua has faced who has impressed me is obviously [Wladimir] Klitschko. That was a great fight.
 
Who wins that fight between Wilder and Joshua?
 
I’d give it to Wilder. He’s become a smart, athletic fighter. And when he lets his hands go, it’s a thing of a beauty.
 
You’re very proud of your Mexican heritage. Who’s your favorite Mexican fighter of all time?
 
Oh, come on—you know it’s Julio Cesar Chavez, man! Chavez is the greatest Mexican boxer who has ever lived. Of course, if you watch some of those Salvador Sanchez fights—man, that guy was a beast. He was great! And the thing I loved about watching Salvador Sanchez is when he fought, it seemed like he was always smiling. I would watch that and think, “Whoa, this guy is pretty crazy!”
 
Finish this sentence: If not for boxing, I would be …
 
… a carpenter. I like doing carpentry, and used to work at a restoration company. Like if there was a flood in a house or a burnt room, I would go in and help do the repairs.
 
Finish this sentence: People would be surprised to learn that I … 
 
… love to draw—anything. I’ll just sit and draw random stuff. I do all kinds of drawings for my son, like SpongeBob SquarePants, Squidward—all the dumb characters he watches. He asks me to draw them for him.
 
You’re known for having quite the appetite. What’s the one food you absolutely could not live without?
 
Mexican food. Period. But, man, lately I’ve been eating it too much. I’m thinking about going vegan.
 
When training, what’s your least favorite exercise?
 
Running. I hate to run—hate it with a passion. The only reason I’d run [voluntarily] is if somebody was chasing me or I needed to chase someone. 
 
Safe to say a marathon isn’t in your future then?
 
No. Absolutely not!
 
You’ve lived your entire life in Southern California. What’s the biggest misconception about the SoCal lifestyle?
 
That everything that glitters is gold. Not everything that looks good is good. Like if you see a pretty girl, usually there’s something wrong with her.
 
Speaking of SoCal, you’re as passionate a fan of the Los Angeles Dodgers as there is on the planet. What is it about the Dodgers that first appealed to you?  
 
I became a fan in the ’80s because of [former Dodgers pitcher] Fernando Valenzuela. But I didn’t start going to games until recently—2010, 2011, when I could finally afford to take my family. What I love most, though, is the atmosphere at Dodger Stadium. I love it. There’s no place like it. The food is not that great, but the atmosphere rocks.
 
You’re not one of those Dodger fans who shows up late to games and leaves early, are you?
 
You know what? Earlier this year, I took my son to a game—it was just me and him—and it was the end of the eighth inning and we were losing 6-2. So, I’m like, “Man, I’m out of here.” So I left, and the Dodgers came back and won, 7-6. I was so pissed that I left.
 
Was that the last time you did that?
 
No, I did it again this past weekend! [Laughs.] We were winning, so I thought, “Well, they’re winning, let’s get out of here.” The other team came back to tie it in the ninth inning, but we won it in the 10th. Still, I did it again. I swear, I need to learn my lesson.

12 Rounds With …” is published Wednesdays at PremierBoxingChampions.com. Next week: 168-pound prospect Caleb Plant.

Fight Night: Sat, Oct 14, 2017 - StubHub Center, Carson, California

Mares vs Gutierrez

An early stoppage due to a cut over Andres Gutierrez's left eye resulted in a victory by technical decision for Abner Mares after 10 exciting rounds.
PBC Boxing Video Thumbnail

Mares vs Gutierrez Highlights: October 14, 2017

Mares vs Gutierrez Round by Round Fight Summary. Rounds are displayed numerically as columns. Each row will display one of the following: W for win, L for loss, KO for knockout, or TKO for technical knock out. An empty column means that data is not available.
Fighter Name 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Mares No data available No data available No data available No data available
Gutierrez No data available No data available No data available No data available

An early stoppage due to a cut over Andres Gutierrez's left eye resulted in a victory by technical decision for Abner Mares after 10 exciting rounds.

Abner Mares vs Andres Gutierrez

Abner Mares vs Andres Gutierrez (Andy Samuelson / Premier Boxing Champions)

The initial reaction suggested that 2004 Mexican Olympian and three-division world champion Abner Mares had produced a stoppage win. The bout was halted due to a cut over Gutierrez’ left eye that gushed from round two onward, a testament to the level of commitment put forth by Mares, who knew when to slug and when to box over the course of their featherweight title fight.

The wound served as a bullseye and only worsened over the course of the contest. Gutierrez did his best to make a fight of it, but would only earn points for his bravery and durability as he never hit the deck. 

He did, however, hit a wall as referee Jack Reiss decided in round ten that the cut was severe enough to require medical attention. The ringside physician offered a brief examination before deciding the 24-year old from Mexico was no longer fit to continue. Because it was determined the cut worsened from a clash of heads, though, the bout went to the scorecards. 

Mares was denied a stoppage victory, but scores of 99-91 (twice) and 100-90 declared him winner and still champion. 

It may not have been the finish he preferred, but still enough of a statement sent to the opponent he really wanted on this evening. 

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Andres "Jaguarcito" Gutierrez

Fight Night: Sat, Oct 14, 2017 - StubHub Center, Carson, California

Santa Cruz vs Avalos

Leo Santa Cruz successfully defends his title with an 8th round TKO victory against Chris Avalos.
PBC Boxing Video Thumbnail

Santa Cruz vs Avalos Highlights: October 14, 2017

Santa Cruz vs Avalos Round by Round Fight Summary. Rounds are displayed numerically as columns. Each row will display one of the following: W for win, L for loss, KO for knockout, or TKO for technical knock out. An empty column means that data is not available.
Fighter Name 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Santa Cruz No data available No data available No data available No data available
Avalos No data available No data available No data available No data available

Leo Santa Cruz successfully defends his title with an 8th round TKO victory against Chris Avalos.

Leo Santa Cruz vs Chris Avalos

Leo Santa Cruz vs Chris Avalos (Andy Samuelson / Premier Boxing Champions)

Santa Cruz made the first defense of his second tour as featherweight champion with a one-sided 8th round stoppage of Chris Avalos in the evening’s main event. The win was every bit as dominant as Mares’ technical unanimous decision victory over Mexico’s Andres Gutierrez in the co-main event, pitching a near-shutout to register the first defense of his featherweight belt. 

By the time he entered the ring for his own title defense, Santa Cruz was already able to take in the masterpiece turned in by Mares, whom he outpointed more than two years ago to begin his first featherweight title run. Having since lost and regained his title in a pair of thrillers with Carl Frampton, the free-swinging pressure fighter from California by way of Mexico sought to make a statement on the heels of a career-long nine-month layoff, wasting no time in immediately taking the fight to Avalos.

The opening three minutes set the tone for how much of the main event would play out. Avalos refused to back down, but was miserably outgunned in what served as his second career title fight. A high octane opening round for Santa Cruz was punctuated with a pair of right hands that briefly shook his challenger. 

Avalos did his best to stand his ground, showing a willingness to trade with the defending champion in rounds two and three but paying a heavy price. Santa Cruz ended round three with another booming right hand and had the Lancaster, Calif. product in serious trouble in round four. When a stoppage didn’t present itself, he made sure to heed the advice of his father and trainer, Jose Santa Cruz in between rounds. 

Just as he listened to his father in making an optional defense before heading into a Mares rematch, Santa Cruz decided to slow down just enough to make it a boxing match in the middle rounds. It was still target practice for the defending champion, who landed 42% of his punches over the course of the evening, but none bigger than the volley of shots to end the contest. 

Santa Cruz had Avalos in trouble late in round seven, and decided the night had lasted long enough. Round eight saw the four-time champion in three weight divisions pour on a power-punching assault, connecting on a staggering 70% of his power punches in prompting referee Thomas Taylor to stop the contest with Avalos still on his feet. 

The official time was 1:34 of round eight. 

With the rust-shaking optional defense out of the way, the defending champion can go back to focusing on bigger game. 

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Fight Night: Sat, Oct 14, 2017 - Barclays Center, Brooklyn, New York

Erislandy Lara retains his 154-pound title following a unanimous decision victory over formerly unbeaten Terrell Gausha.
Lara vs Gausha Round by Round Fight Summary. Rounds are displayed numerically as columns. Each row will display one of the following: W for win, L for loss, KO for knockout, or TKO for technical knock out. An empty column means that data is not available.
Fighter Name 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Lara No data available No data available No data available No data available
Gausha No data available No data available No data available No data available

Erislandy Lara retains his 154-pound title following a unanimous decision victory over formerly unbeaten Terrell Gausha.

Lara vs Gausha

Ed Diller / DiBella Entertainment

Erislandy Lara looks like one of those athletes that never ages. Sure, the Cuban expatriate has those little creases and cracks in his face that boxing veterans accumulate from the years of wars. But overall, Lara seems like he can go on forever.
 
Against untested Terrell Gausha, that’s what the 34-year-old titlist looked like, knocking his younger opponent down in the fourth en route to a unanimous decision and retain his title before 7,643 at Barclays Center.
 
Gausha (20-1, 9 KOs) did close to nothing. Lara (25-2-2, 14 KOs) reached a comfort zone early and stayed there. He kept Gausha off with a jab, and used distance to build a big lead. Gausha had his moments, though they were sparse. Feeling a sense of urgency, Gausha opened up briefly in the seventh and went after Lara.
 
But Lara, a southpaw, found his rhythm again. 
 
Lara landed 121 of 528 total punches thrown to Gausha’s 77 of 329.

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September 8 2017 fight night promo

This week in boxing history, PBC goes back more than 100 years to celebrate the first world heavyweight championship fight under modern rules, honor one of the sport’s greatest rivalries and highlight the longest bout of the 20th century, in addition to remembering a brutal middleweight war and a thrilling featherweight title showdown.

August 28, 1959 – Gene Fullmer stopped Carmen Basilio in Round 14 (of 15) to win the vacant NBA (which became the WBA in 1962) world middleweight title at the Cow Palace in Daly City, California.

After Sugar Ray Robinson was stripped of his championship due to inactivity, Fullmer claimed the title in The Ring’s Fight of the Year, which marked the fifth straight year Basilio competed in boxing’s top bout. In a June 1960 rematch, Fullmer stopped Basilio in Round 12 to retain his title.

August 29, 1885 – John L. Sullivan beat Dominick McCaffrey on points in Round 7 (of 6) to win the inaugural world heavyweight championship under the Marquess of Queensberry Rules at Chester Park in Cincinnati.

Sullivan, who entered the bout as the American bare-knuckle heavyweight champion, knocked McCaffrey down several times in a fight that was scheduled for six rounds but continued to an unofficial seventh round. It was not only the first heavyweight title fight in which three-ounce gloves were used, it also was the first to incorporate the three-minute round format.

John L. Sullivan and Dominick McCaffrey

John L. Sullivan stands over Dominick McCaffrey after knocking him down during their heavyweight championship bout in August 1885.

August 29, 2015 – Leo Santa Cruz beat Abner Mares by 12-round majority decision to win the vacant WBA featherweight title at Staples Center in Los Angeles.

In an action-packed PBC bout in which both fighters were cut by accidental headbutts and combined to throw more than 2,000 punches, the unbeaten Santa Cruz held off an early charge by Mares to become a three-division world champion after already having earned titles at 118 and 122 pounds.

August 31, 1915 – Ted “Kid” Lewis defeated Jack Britton by points over 12 rounds to earn the world welterweight title at the Boston Arena and become the first British boxer to win a world championship in the United States.

Named one of the 100 greatest title fights of all time by The Ring in 1996, the bout was the first championship meeting (and second overall) between the Hall of Famers in one of boxing’s greatest rivalries. From 1915 to 1921, Lewis and Britton fought 20 times, totaling 224 rounds, and swapped the world title multiple times.

Ted “Kid” Lewis and Jack Britton

Ted “Kid” Lewis (left) shakes hands with Jack Britton.

September 3, 1906 – Joe Gans defeated Battling Nelson via disqualification in Round 42 to regain the world lightweight title at the Casino Amphitheatre in Goldfield, Nevada.

Gans, who had relinquished the lightweight title to fight Joe Walcott for the welterweight crown in 1904, knocked Nelson down a couple of times in the fight before Nelson floored Gans with a low blow, leading referee George Siler to call a foul and declare Gans the winner of the longest bout of the 20th century. The boxers fought two more times for the lightweight title in 1908, with Nelson winning both bouts by knockout.

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