In his most recent bout on Nov. 29, Chris beat a tough Travis Walker by scoring an exciting third-round TKO. In the second round Chris was knocked down for the first time in his career, but got up and proceeded to send Walker to the canvas twice in the same round. Chris is ranked second by one sanctioning body, and fourth by two others, and the fighter appears poised to realize the dream that drives him. "I want to be remembered in history," he says. "to leave something behind about Chris Arreola after I am dead."
What kind of feedback are you getting from friends, family and fans over your appearance on Ring Life?
They said I looked fat. But that episode was at the beginning of my training. Some were busting my chops, but others saw the show and said, "Wow, that's like a mini-24/7."
It looked like you live in a very isolated place. How far is it to your nearest neighbor or your gym?
The house is kind of secluded, but it's not really as far away from things as it looks, and it's not like where I trained in Big Bear, which sucked. I'm less than a quarter mile away from things I need. What I like best is that when I drive I can look at all the trails leading off the road.
You mentioned in episode one that you had no childhood because of your dedication to boxing. Considering where you are now, if you had to do it all over again, would you have spent so much time in a gym?
My dad did push me and push me. But I'm glad now that he beat my butt to go to the gym because so many guys I know strayed and got into bad things.
How is it you could spend four weeks in Big Bear boot camp and still weigh-in at 254 pounds, just four shy of your highest weight?
I didn't go to a fat camp. I went to box and I did. After I knocked Walker out, I was barely warmed up. If it went 12 rounds he would have been hurt. I started slow in the first round because I wanted to try and see how he threw his punches. I noticed he dragged his right hand and that's what I exploited. You have to analyze fighters in the ring. I got that from my amateur background. You'd go to a tournament and you had to fight five guys in five nights, with five different styles, so you had to study them in the ring to figure them out. I never saw any video of Walker, just a couple of his live fights on TV. I knew he was strong. He knocked me down with an overhand right. It hit me so hard I didn't even know I was down. It was the first time I had ever been down. I didn't rush to get up, but took a knee and gave myself some extra seconds. I said, "Oh man I just got dropped, I got to get that point back." I could live with losing a 10-9 round, but no way was I going to get a 10-8 round. It woke me up, and I knew that I was in a fight. But I never backed down. I stayed methodical.
Do you think you can hit the scales at 254 and beat one of the Klitschko brothers?
I've got to be 240 or 245 if I want to beat one of the Klitschkos. I never worried about weight before, but now I have to.
"I never saw any video of Walker, just a couple of his live fights on TV. I knew he was strong. He knocked me down with an overhand right. It hit me so hard I didn't even know I was down. It was the first time I had ever been down. I didn't rush to get up, but took a knee and gave myself some extra seconds. I said, "Oh man I just got dropped, I got to get that point back." "
You have said before you want more for your family than you had growing up. Is that what drives you?
Absolutely. To be honest with you I didn't sleep in a bed until I was 15 or 16. I slept on the floor, the couch, tables. We only had a one-bedroom house. My parents had to clear space in the laundry room for my sister Caribel so she could sleep on a twin-size bed.
Is being the first Mexican to win a heavyweight championship really that important to you or do you use it more as a marketing tool?
Of course it means a lot to me. I want to be remembered in history, to leave something behind about Chris Arreola after I'm dead. After I finish boxing, I want to become an agent to help open doors for other Mexican-Americans. I know it's unusual for a Mexican to be a heavyweight, and to tell the truth I'm surprised at how big I am. My parents were both 5-5.
You were devastated last year when your best friend Alex Carranza was shot and killed. On days when you don't feel like training, is he motivation to keep at it?
This guy was a truck driver, but he still found a way to go to the gym every day. I will always remember that. I still can't deal with it. He was like me, a big dude, and people would say there goes the two big Mexicans. To me it still feels like he's just headed out on a trip with his truck and will be back. Sometimes I see a truck and I think it's his and say to myself, oh boy, he's here, but I snap back to reality in a few seconds. After he passed away I found my brother Carlos, whom I hadn't seen in 11 years. I feel like that was my friend's gift to me. Carlos is 37, and we just lost contact. He would move, I would move. Now my brother is really into me, he works as part of my team and lives in my house. The first time we met, we went out to a bar. He knew I had boxed as a kid. When people in the bar started coming over to me and asking me about my next fight, he said, wow, you're really still boxing?
Your trainer has said you have just scratched the surface of your talent. How much better can you be, and what will it take to bring all your talent out?
There's so much more I can do. There are things I can do in the gym which I haven't yet been able to do in the ring.
All four belts are held by eastern Europeans. If you get a title shot, it looks like you'll probably be heading overseas. How do you feel about that?
I really don't want to go, but if I have to I will, and I'll move over there a month or six weeks from the fight to get myself used to the time zone difference and the climate. When you cross too many time zones it can throw you off. I know people say you can't get a fair shake over there from the judges, but the trick is to not give it to the judges, don't leave it up to them.
What would it take for you to defeat Wladimir Klitschko?
To beat Wladimir I've got to make him uncomfortable, take the fight to him. (Lamon) Brewster drew the blueprint on how to beat him. He took the fight to Wladimir and he made him so uncomfortable fighting that he was able to knock him out.
What would be the perfect "Chris Arreola World" two or three years from now?
If I was the unified heavyweight champion. My perfect world is very simple.
December 24, 2008