Thursday, April 9, 2009 | 7:30 p.m.
- Principals: Winky Wright (51-4-1, 25 KOs) vs. Paul Williams (36-1, 27 KOs)
- Stakes: 12-round nontitle middleweight fight
- Time/site: Saturday at the Mandalay Bay Events Center; first bout 2:30 p.m., main event approximately 8 p.m.
- Tickets: $50 to $300, mandalaybay.com
- TV: HBO (Cox cable channel 200)
- Weigh-in: 2:30 p.m. today, J-POP Lounge, Mandalay Bay
- Co-main event: Chris Arreola (26-0, 23 KOs) vs. Jameel McCline (39-3-3, 23 KOs), 12 rounds, heavyweights
- Undercard: Danny Garcia (11-0, 7 KOs) vs. Humberto Tapia (14-9-1, 7 KOs), 8 rounds, junior welterweights; Shawn Estrada (3-0, 3 KOs) vs. Omar Coffi (1-1-2), 4 rounds, super middleweights; Jose Rodriguez (12-1-1, 2 KOs) vs. Pablo Montes De Oca (9-15-2, 6 KOs), 10 rounds, junior middleweights; Craig McEwan (13-0, 8 KOs) vs. Alexis Division (16-8, 13 KOs), 8 rounds, middleweights; Michael Dallas (6-0-1, 1 KO) vs. Terrance Jett (4-12-2, 2 KOs), 6 rounds, junior welterweights; Juan Dominguez (3-0, 1 KO) vs. Ramon Flores (3-4-1, 3 KOs), 4 rounds, featherweights; Rico Ramos (8-0, 5 KOs) vs. Gino Escamilla (5-4-1, 2 KOs), 6 rounds, junior featherweights
Casual boxing fans may have no idea who Chris Arreola is, but the Los Angeles native’s camp says after Saturday night “The Nightmare” will be a haunting face in what has been a faceless heavyweight division.
“The question that all fans, forget boxing fans, but all sports fans want to know is who the next heavyweight will be that’s gonna come out there and carry the crown that the greats did throughout the years,” said Dan Goossen, Arreola’s promoter, during a Thursday news conference at Mandalay Bay.
“Ali, Frazier, Foreman, Lennox, Mike Tyson. For those of you who haven’t had the opportunity to see him yet, I believe that man is Chris Arreola. I believe he’s got all the tools, and all of the other ingredients outside the ring to bring this sport back to the heyday of the heavyweight division.”
Arreola’s opponent for the co-main event Saturday night at Mandalay Bay, Jameel McCline, certainly doesn’t want Arreola’s fame to come at the cost of his name.
“I’m still a beast,” said the 6-foot-6, 270-pound McCline, who came out of retirement at the age of 38 to take the WBC and NABF title fight.
“I didn’t retire because I’m beat up, I retired because I was making a whole lot of money doing other things. But now I’m excited to be back.”
The two big fighters -- Arreola is 6-foot-4, 240-pounds -- could very well overshadow the main event between Winky Wright and Paul Williams.
“One question I get asked a lot is ‘When are we gonna see some big heavyweights fight it out?’” said Nevada State Athletic Commission Executive Director Keith Kizer. “It’s been easy to answer that question lately, ‘I just say April 11 at Mandalay Bay.’ What a great co-main event to have Mr. Arreola and Mr. McCline.”
The undefeated 28-year-old Arreola (26-0, 23 KOs) says he respects McCline’s accomplishments, but says Saturday will mark his arrival.
“Jameel is a beast but then again, so am I,” Arreola said. “He has the experience over me having fought for the heavyweight title on four occasions but I had 130 amateur fights so I know how to adapt. And I’m sure Jameel McCline is not the same fighter he was in his last fight. So in the ring I’ll have to adapt and figure him out.”
While Arreola, who took to the sport as an 8-year-old, is looking to put his name out for more than just the boxing masses, he also wants to be a proud representative of his Mexican heritage.
“I want to leave a legacy,” Arreola told the Los Angeles Times, also saying that he expects after a win Saturday to be awarded a title shot in the near future against current WBC heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko.
“I want to open the door for a lot of my people. I believe that, when I’m done, there will be two heavyweights of Mexican descent in the Top 10.”
McCline’s new trainer, Stacy McKinley, said Arreola (a minus-360 betting favorite) is an exciting up-and-comer, but doesn’t have the experience yet to start thinking about being placed among the great heavyweights.
“He’s making a big step. Jameel McCline is one of the best heavyweights in the world. He’s has all the experience, he’s a pure boxer, he has good chin, and a new team,” McKinley said.
“I know Chris is a good fighter, but he hasn’t heard the counts of Round Nine, Round 10, Round 11, Round 12, that’s deep water — he’s never been there before. You’ve got your eyes closed up, your nose bleeding out your mouth, your lungs are burning from being exhausted.
“Those are the rounds where you’ll find out if you’ve got a good fighter, a great fighter, or the makings of a great fighter. Right now, he’s hasn’t done that.”
Arreola, who has disposed of 25 of his 26 opponents before the final round, had a simple answer: “It’s not my fault, that those fights haven’t lasted.”
Andy Samuelson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-948-7837.