Chris Arreola looked sharp while chopping down Kendrick Releford to a seventh-round TKO in the main event of a Friday Night Fights broadcast on Friday in Reno, Nev.
Arreola, THE RING’s No. 10-rated heavyweight, outworked Releford from the start of the ESPN2-televised contest, dropping the resilient journeyman in the sixth round before referee Russell Mora waved the bout off at 2:43 of the seventh round.
The victory was Arreola’s third fight of the year, his second in just 13 days, as well as his second consecutive bout in which he weighed under 240 pounds.
The 30-year-old Riverside, Calif., resident was dismissed by much of the media and by many fans after a number of sluggish or sloppy performances — including losses to titleholder Vitali Klitschko and fellow contender Tomasz Adamek — due to a slothful lifestyle that led to heavier-than-needed fighting weights (usually between 250 and 260 pounds).
Arreola (32-3, 28 knockouts) says he’s turned over a new leaf and so far he’s looked pretty good fighting at lighter, healthier weights. He weighed 234 for Nagy Aguilera, who he whacked out in three entertaining rounds on May 14, and he tipped the scales at 236 for Releford (22-15-2, 10 KOs).
Arreola boxed at a fast-but-controlled pace against the cagey Texan, who hung tough for five rounds but did so mostly by pawing out of a defensive shell. Releford refused to exchange with Arreola, but the affable contender diligently stalked him behind stiff jabs, hooks to the body and brutal uppercuts.
After buzzing Releford with a right uppercut at the end of the fifth round, Arreloa landed a left uppercut that finally put the strong-willed opponent down to one knee in the sixth. Releford boldly got up but was nailed with an even harder left uppercut that violently snapped his head back.
The fight probably should have ended between rounds but Mora did what Releford’s corner would not do before the end of the seventh.
In the ESPN2-televised co-featured bout, heavyweight fringe contender Tony Thompson (36-2, 24 KOs) easily dispatched Maurice Harris (24-15-2, 10 KOs) in three rounds.
Thompson, a 39-year-old southpaw from Silver Spring, Md., dropped Harris with a right hook in the second round and continued to rock the 35-year-old New Jersey native with the same punch (which sometimes landed on the veteran spoiler’s ear and to the back of the head).
Seeing that Harris couldn’t defend himself (or simply didn’t want to fight) referee Vic Drakulich waved the fight off at 1:51 of the third round.
Thompson earned an IBF title elimination bout against RING-rated contender Eddie Chambers with the victory.
Also on the Friday Night Fights broadcast, talented 2004 U.S. Olympian Javier Molina (7-0, 4 KOs) out-boxed difficult journeyman David Lopez (3-6-3) to a unanimous decision in a brisk six-round welterweight bout.