In a fight that was eerily reminiscent of last Saturday's bout between Floyd Mayweather and Juan Manuel Marquez, Vitali Klitschko completely dominated Chris Arreola at the Staples Center in Los Angeles tonight to retain his WBC heavyweight crown after Arreola's corner stopped the fight immediately following the close of the tenth round.
Just as did Mayweather last week in Las Vegas, Klitschko arguably won every round tonight, owning the fight from the perimeter of the ring with precision jabs, straight right hands and uppercuts that battered Arreola's face and body. It was a masterful performance by Klitschko, who used his considerable size and reach differential to keep Arreola at a comfortable distance with an impressive array of punches from a variety of angles. Arreola fought with determination and heart, but in the end he was simply overmatched, lacking the footwork and hand-speed he needed to get close to the bigger, stronger and speedier man and land that one big shot that might have leveled the playing field. Early in the bout, Arreola connected with some heavy blows, but Klitschko absorbed them well and countered effectively. As the rounds mounted, the fight turned into a rout in Klitschko's favor, as both of Arreola's eyes swelled toward closing and blood poured from his nose and a gash on his forehead. A stoppage seemed merciful at this point.
"He was taking too much punishment," said Arreola's trainer, Henry Ramirez, about the decision to stop the fight. "When I told him I was going to stop it, he was irate. This was not an easy thing for me to do, but we had discussed this beforehand. I had to do it."
Arreola was attempting to become the first man in history of Mexican descent to win a share of the heavweight title, and the crowd at the Staples Center, announced as 14,556, was completely behind him, cheering his every headlong lunge and charge. But over and over again, those charges came up short, with Arreola paying dearly for the effort, taking two or three to give one, or none. It was a brutally hard night of work for Arreola, and though he was tremendously emotional after the fight, he made no excuses for his defeat. "He found a way to win and I found a way to lose," he told HBO's Larry Merchant in a heartbreakingly blunt assessment of the evening.
For the 38-year-old Klitschko, this has to be considered a final answer to any who doubt his skills or mettle after returning from retirement last October. With Arreola's relentless pursuit tonight, perhaps the most surprising thing that Klitschko showed tonight was an effortless mobility and ring generalship under constant pressure. Right now, it is inarguable that Vitali and his brother, Wladimir, are the two best heavyweights in the world, and after tonight, there's not an American, or Mexican-American, or perhaps even a fighter in all the world who has a credible hope of ending the Klitschkos' era of dominance.