Chris Arreola is no stranger to making an early statement in his fights. And Saturday night at the Don Haskins Center in El Paso, Texas, it looked like Fred Kassi was waiting for it.
He kept his distance, but Arreola kept his cool. Maybe too much cool, as Fred Kassi got comfortable and put Arreola through his paces as the fight progressed.
Kassi didn’t give away any rounds and didn’t let Arreola unload on him. Instead, Arreola had to dig deep late in the fight to earn a majority draw in the heavyweight clash. Two of the three judges scored it even at 95-95, while Gerardo Venzer gave Arreola a 96-94 edge.
“I thought it was a close fight [entering the 10th], but I thought I was winning,” Chris Arreola said. “I thought I was up 6-3, but I knew it was close.”
Kassi used his jab early, stymieing Arreola’s efforts to fight up close. And when he couldn’t keep the taller Arreola at bay, Kassi clenched to stop his progress.
Still, Arreola kept hammering away with booming body shots that seemed to take the wind out of Kassi’s sails.
“Toward the end of the fight you could tell he wasn’t moving as much,” Arreola said. “He was staying in front of me. It was a combination of him being crafty enough to hold and survive, and just not being able to get off today. I don’t know, I just couldn’t get off.”
As is often his style, Arreola waded through whatever damage Kassi felt like dishing out. He ate jabs and uppercuts with regularity, but never so much as flinched at any of the shots he took.
Arreola came alive in the fourth, landing his overhand right several times, but even as Kassi got wary, he never went to the mat.
There was plenty of prefight speculation that an impressive win would catapult Arreola back into a championship-caliber fight his next time out. Arreola himself remained optimistic afterward, but tempered some of those expectations.
“Personally, I don’t think [I did enough],” he said. “I know that if I was to get Deontay Wilder, I’d be a lot better prepared. Not that I wasn’t prepared for this fight. [Kassi] just came in here and came with a good fight.”
For the complete breakdown of Arreola vs Kassi, including photos and video, hit up our fight page.