By the time he had reached high school, Chris Arreola was burned out on the sport he had competed in since the age of 7.
“I was done with boxing when I was 16 and moved to Riverside [California],” Chris Arreola said of the time after his parents’ divorce. “I left my dad and came to live with my mom. I played basketball and football and did some other high school stuff.”
But Arreola's fire for the sweet science was rekindled two years later through his best friend, Alex Carranza.
“When I was 18, me and Alex were watching some boxing on TV, and I was like, ‘These guys suck. They can’t even throw a proper jab,’” Arreola said. “Alex was 6-foot-5, about 240 pounds, and he gets up and says in his high-pitched voice, ‘Man, if you think you’re so good, why don’t you go and do it?’”
Arreola then signed up for the 2001 National Golden Gloves, trained for three months and won the 178-pound title in Reno, Nevada.
“I was back just like that,” said Arreola, who will fight Frederic Kassi (18-3, 10 KOs) in El Paso, Texas, on Saturday in a bout airing on CBS (4 p.m. ET/1 p.m. PT). “Alex was always there for me, taking me to all of the tournaments. He's the reason I'm doing what I do. I’ll never forget him for that."
One more THROWBACK... April 2001 Los Angeles regional golden glove, that year I went on to win the NATIONAL GOLDEN GLOVES at 178. The guy standing to my left in all black was Alex Carranza one of the main reasons I started boxing. He drove me to LA every day I had I fight without a question asked. He believed in me, or he just wanted to see me get my ass kicke...lol... love you Alex, thanks for being a friend R.I.P.
Arreola and Carranza were at a Halloween party on October 27, 2007, when a dispute between several men escalated into shooting. Carranza was struck in the lower back by a bullet while shielding a woman and died. He was 25 years old.
“It was just two guys shooting at each other,” Arreola said. “Alex had nothing to do with it.”
The shooters left the party and were never caught. Arreola (36-4, 31 KOs) now has a tattoo of Carranza’s face on his left arm above the phrase, “The Good Die Young.”
On March 24, Arreola’s wife, Erin, gave birth to a son, Alex, who is named in honor of Carranza. Arreola also has a 13-year-old daughter, Danae.
“My daughter was part of my main motivation for getting back into boxing,” Arreola said. “Now, with my son being named after Alex, it’s become even more important.
“I won’t quit in the ring because of my children. I don’t ever want my children to see their dad as a quitter.”
For complete coverage of Arreola vs Kassi, visit our fight page.