All throughout the buildup to their fight, Chris Arreola disparaged Seth Mitchell as not being in his league.
Saturday night in their Showtime headlining bout in Indio, Calif., Arreola followed through on those statements, serving up his most impressive victory to date with a first-round knockout.
Arreola (35-3, 31 knockouts), of Riverside, Calif., had Mitchell badly hurt in the first 30 seconds, but the former Michigan State linebacker used his old tackling skills to stay in it as the two hit the mat. Mitchell didn’t have the benefit of a timeout, though, and Arreola took advantage, scoring an official knockdown soon after.
Referee Jack Reiss took a close look at Washington, D.C.’s Mitchell (26-2-1, 19 KOs) before letting the fight continue. Arreola jumped on Mitchell and battered him with an assortment of power shots, giving Reiss no choice but to stop it.
With the win, Arreola becomes a relevant name in the heavyweight division once again. Mitchell will get cast in the discard pile of former heavyweight hopefuls, and it would be a long road back to this level again if he’s inclined to try.
Arreola called for a rematch with Bermane Stiverne, who defeated the popular Mexican-American in April in a WBC eliminator. Arreola’s nose was broken by a knockdown-inducing punch in that fight and he gutted it out, lasting the distance.
Prior to the fight, Arreola and trainer Henry Ramirez told RingTV that their training camp for that fight was atrocious, prompting them to take it on the road to Phoenix. There they found a newly-focused Arreola and the results paid off.
Arreola believes Vitali Klitschko is perhaps done, making a rematch with Stiverne potentially for a vacant heavyweight trinket.
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All formerly great champions find out sooner or later that they’re no longer top-tier fighters.
Former 118- and 122-pound champion Rafael Marquez (41-9, 37 KOs) found that out Saturday as the lightly-regarded but tough Efrain Esquivias stopped the legendary Mexican in the ninth round with a short right.
Esquivias (17-2-1, 10 KOs) has always been a solid professional, and even in defeat has always acquitted himself well. Few thought that his credentials meant he could beat even a faded Marquez, but the Gardena, Calif., native hung in after a tough early going and saw his opponent wear down from his pressure.
Marquez’s legs aren’t what they used to be and Esquivias’ attack to the body helped speed the deterioration.
The momentum was going Esquivias’ way until the seventh, when Marquez hurt him badly in the closing seconds of the round. Marquez nearly got the victory, but Esquvias was saved by the bell.
Esquvias took over again in the eighth, buckling Marquez to close the round. It didn’t take long for him to pick up where he left off, dropping Marquez in the opening seconds of the ninth with a short right. The fight was halted at the 19-second mark.
Though it is tough to see a fighter of Marquez’s stature lose to a fighter that otherwise would be considered a level below, it probably was for the best. All signs pointed to Golden Boy having plans to match Marquez with one of their young lions. A fight with Abner Mares, Leo Santa Cruz or Gary Russell Jr. could have been classified as a crime.
Credit to Esquivias, whose confidence grew with each round. At the very least, he’ll get a career payday out of this victory in his next fight. At the time of the stoppage, he was ahead 77-75 on two cards with a third one even, 76-76.
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Former junior featherweight titlist Rico Ramos looked like he was headed for defeat before scoring a one-punch, left hook knockout of unbeaten fringe prospect Carlos Velasquez with a minute left to go in their ten-round featherweight contest.
Ramos (22-3, 12 KOs), of Pico Rivera, Calif., who was one of the first fighters to sign with power broker Al Haymon at the outset of his pro career, climbed off the canvas in the fifth round to gut out the win.
Velasquez (15-1, 11 KOs), training out of Las Vegas, a former top prospect who fell off the radar in the past few years, showed a good body attack and quality combination punching from the outset.
Ramos started out much quicker than he had in previous defeats, but let Velasquez boss him around on the inside. That lead to the knockdown as Ramos stepped back after a clinch and got caught by a one-two for his troubles. Ramos climbed back into the fight a bit as Velasquez’s volume dropped, but the majority felt as though he was behind on the cards heading into the final round.
With a minute to go, Ramos landed a left hook eerily similar to the one that won him the WBA 122-pound title in 2011 from Akifumi Shimoda. His career developed a rocky trajectory beginning with a one-sided loss to Guillermo Rigondeaux in his first defense, and he became a ‘win some, lose some’ fighter from then on. Ramos avoided becoming a perennial gatekeeper by stopping Velasquez, who was out cold for several minutes. Surprisingly, the judges had him ahead 86-84 twice while one judge had it 85-85.
Santa Ana, Calif., featherweight Ronny Rios earned an eight-round unanimous decision over tough Mexico City journeyman Jose Angel Beranza (36-28-2, 28 KOs).
It was a quality action fight, but Rios was far superior, technically. Beranza did his job making it not too easy for his undefeated foe. Rios previously had scored a win over Rico Ramos in a ShoBox headlining fight to start the year. The scores against Beranza read 80-72 twice and 78-74.
Prized Joe Goossen lightweight prospect Maurice Lee (3-0, 2 KOs) of Van Nuys, Calif., went the distance for the first time, winning a four-round shutout over Mexico City’s Juan Carlos Sanchez (1-2).
Photos by German Villasenor