By Francisco Salazar
Heavyweight Chris Arreola loves to fight. Whether it is a knockout victory or in defeat, Arreola gives it his all in the ring.
At age 38, Arreola is not going to defeat ‘Father Time,’ but he wants to make the most of any and all opportunities before finally hanging up the gloves.
That includes tonight, when he squares off against unbeaten Jean Pierre Augustin at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The Arreola-Augustin fight will open the FOX Pay-Per-View telecast (9 p.m. ET/ 6 p.m. PT).
Arreola (37-5-1, 32 knockouts) returned to action on Dec. 1 after losing to Deontay Wilder in July of 2016. Arreola stopped veteran Maurenzo Smith after the sixth round on the undercard of the Wilder-Tyson Fury fight.
Tonight will be Arreola’s first bout in four years where he will fight within a four-month span. Arreola weighed 239.25 pounds at Friday’s weigh-in (Augustin weighed 226 pounds), the lightest he has come in since his December 2015 clash with Travis Kauffman.
Arreola is ready for Augustin tonight.
“I came in wanting to be in shape for this fight,” Arreola told BoxingScene over the phone Thursday night. “I didn’t have anyone tell me to get to the gym. Not even (trainer) Henry (Ramirez). I’m in great shape because I put the work in over the last six weeks.”
“As far as Augustin goes, I’ve seen a few YouTube videos of him. I’m going to have to press the fight because he is going to box and move away from me. I prepared to press and take the fight to him for 10 rounds. I’m going to take the fight to him and force him to fight.”
Arreola has been criticized over the years from not taking the fight game seriously to balling in weight due to poor eating habits before a major fight.
Arreola has come up short in recent fights. Aside from the knockout loss to Wilder, Arreola has twice lost to Bermane Stiverne, Tomasz Adamek, and Vitali Klitschko.
Saturday night could be the last fight if Arreola is not as his best.
“If I lose this fight, it will be my last fight,” said Arreola, who grew up in East Los Angeles and now resides in the Riverside area. “Even if I win and I don’t look good, (tonight) will be my last fight. I don’t want to disrespect the fight game. That’s why I was at my best during this training camp. I believe I have a good 2-3 years left in me.”
The recent work in the gym has impressed Henry Ramirez, Arreola’s trainer since his pro debut in 2003.
“Chris knows what he has to do,” said Ramirez. “He is very motivated and this training camp was very good. The only difference I see with this fight is that he is really enjoying the interviews with media this week in Dallas. He really didn’t like doing interviews with media before. I think he missed the spotlight and he has enjoyed doing interviews this week.”
Arreola has made very good money fighting on HBO and Showtime platforms, and has been one of Al Haymon’s original fighters he advises.
Arreola is fighting for more than just a paycheck.
“The two things that motivate me are my son and daughter and to fight for a legacy. I love my kids a lot and I just to give them the best. I have not let up on my goal of winning a world title. Those are the things that motivate me.”
Arreola has no regrets on how his career has turned out, but is adamant he can still be a top heavyweight.
The popular Mexican-American fighter has come a long way from fighting before a handful of fans and taking home $200 in his pro debut in September of 2003.
Arreola credits his father for being firm with him, even if Arreola wanted nothing to do with training at a young age.
“When my father would tell me to go train when I was a teenager, I would tell him ‘F*ck you.’ My friends remind me how my father was difficult and I tell them to look at me now. I do give credit to my Dad because I wouldn’t be where I’m at today. I want to make him proud and to fulfill my goals in the sport.”
“I’ve been through a lot, but I know I can still do this. I had a great camp. I’m confident and I feel good. I know I can fight and I know I can win.”
Francisco A. Salazar has written for Boxingscene.com since September of 2012 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (Calif.) Star newspaper. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing