Deontay Wilder was so impressive Saturday defending his world heavyweight title against Chris Arreola, he didn’t even need both hands to finish the job.
Wilder scored a fourth-round knockdown of Arreola and retained his championship before an adoring crowd in Birmingham, Alabama, when Arreola’s corner asked referee Jack Reiss to stop the fight after Round 8.
Deontay Wilder (37-0, 36 KOs) was dominant against Chris Arreola (36-5-1, 31 KOs) despite injuring himself in the process. After the fight, the champ revealed that he broke his right hand before tearing his right bicep in “the third or the fourth round.”
“I'm a force to be reckoned with. I'm going to still give it to you whether I have one hand or two hands,” said Wilder, who was fighting about an hour’s drive from his hometown of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. “I won’t stop. As a champion it's my duty to keep going no matter what I'm going through. Pain ain’t nothing to me.
“Whoever fights me, they have to be ready. They just can't come in and think they're going to bully me or out-tough me or outpunch me, because there ain't no out-bullying, there ain't no out-toughing, there ain't no outpunching, because I'm the heavyweight champion of the world.”
Promoter Lou DiBella said Wilder, 30, was taken to a Birmingham hospital after the fight and would be “seeing a specialist this week to assess the damage to his right hand and right bicep muscle.”
It was late in Round 4 when Wilder rocked Arreola with a powerful right hand before knocking him to the canvas with barrage of sweeping punches. Arreola got up but barely survived the round as “The Bronze Bomber” bludgeoned him against the ropes as the bell rang.
“He was just as tough as I thought he would be. I know he was scared of the right hand for sure,” Wilder said. “I think I would have gotten him out of there [in the fourth] if he didn't hold the ropes. On that last one he told me in my ear, ‘I had to hold the ropes. I had to hold the ropes.’”
Arreola, 35, took the fight on fairly short notice after Wilder’s scheduled defense against Alexander Povetkin in Moscow on May 21 was canceled less than a week beforehand when it was revealed the Russian challenger tested positive for a banned substance.
“The fourth-round knockdown was a situation where he just hit me with the perfect shot,” Arreola said. “Nothing I could do about it.
“Let's be honest, man. It takes a real fighter to be in the ring with someone like him. He's a big man. We're in the heavyweight division, man, this is the hurt business. You have to know how to deal with adversity. I get punched, I'm going to get back up.”
The defeat marked Arreola’s third attempt to become the first Mexican heavyweight champion in history, following his losses to Vitali Klitschko in September 2009 and Bermane Stiverne in May 2014.
“[Deontay's] movement was really tough. He moved perfectly behind his jab,” Arreola said. “It's not that it's even frustrating; it was just I had to catch up to him on runs like that, but it was a fun fight.
"He just kept me on the outside, I couldn't figure him out—plain and simple. I have to give him all the respect in the world because he was just a much better fighter.”
With the cancellation of the Povetkin fight, the 6-foot-7, 226-pound Wilder was competing in the ring for the first time after a career-long six-month layoff.
Wilder, who honored Muhammad Ali on his trunks, worked marvelously behind his jab throughout the fight as he kept the 6-foot-3, 246-pound Arreola searching for openings.
The champ clowned at moments during clenches, swiveling his hips as if the fighters were engaged in dance, but he became more fierce with his jab and hooks in Rounds 7 and 8 before Arreola’s longtime trainer, Henry Ramirez, called for an end to things.
“It was very satisfying to punish a guy like Chris Arreola,” Wilder said. “I straight punished him. I didn’t get my knockout like I wanted, but it was a knockout. I’ll take that on my record.”
For a complete look at Wilder vs Arreola, visit our fight page.