Saturday, Sept. 26, 2009 | 9:30 p.m.
Cris Arreola showed he had plenty of heart. Vitali Klitschko showed he had even more skill.
Klitschko retained his piece of the heavyweight title Saturday night, dominating Arreola from the opening bell before Arreola’s corner finally decided he had enough and refused to let the challenger come out for the 11th round. It was the first loss for Arreola, who was trying to become the first Mexican-American to win a heavyweight title.
Arreola spent almost the entire fight moving forward in an attempt to get inside his taller opponent, but paid a heavy price as Klitschko landed punches from almost every angle to his head and midsection. By the later rounds, Arreola’s face was a bloody mess, yet he continued to plod forward in an increasingly desperate attempt to land a big punch inside.
The fight ended with Arreola on his stool after the 10th round, still ready to fight some more when his trainer refused to allow him to go on.
“He was taking too much punishment,” trainer Henry Ramirez said. “When I told him I was going to stop the fight he was irate.”
Klitschko put on an impressive show, using both his reach advantage and his considerable ring skills to land left hooks followed by an assortment of right hands. But he was never able to put Arreola down, and never landed enough big punches to make him want to quit.
“I know I was hurting him a lot but he has a great, great chin,” Klitschko said. “I was surprised he did not come out (for the 11th round).”
One ringside judge gave Klitschko all 10 rounds while the other two gave Arreola one round. The Associated Press had Klitschko winning every round.
It was the third win for Klitchko since he returned last year from a four-year retirement he said he needed to allow his body to heal. His brother, Wladimir, also a heavyweight champion, was in the corner to give him advice but there was little that needed to be said about a performance so dominating that there seemed little chance for Arreola even after the first round.
“I’m so sorry, I really wanted to be champion,” Arreola said. “I never wanted to quit.”
Ringside punch statistics showed Klitschko threw 802 punches, a huge amount for a heavyweight, and landed 301 of them. Arreola was credited with landing 86 of 331 punches.
Klitschko was a 5-1 favorite, but Arreola thought he would have a puncher’s chance at the very least. He didn’t, largely because Klitschko not only takes a good punch but refused to allow him inside to land many.
The pace of the fight was set in the first round, with Klitschko moving backward slowly, landing punches to the head, while Arreola lunged at him, usually finding only air at the end of his punches. The fight continued in much the same fashion, with Arreola’s face reddening and blood streaming from his nose and mouth.
“This was a hard fight, like I expected,” Klitschko said. “He’s a tough fighter.
It was a successful return for Klitschko to the Staples Center, where he made a name for himself in a loss to Lennox Lewis in 2003 and won the WBC title the next year. Though Klitschko has a home in Los Angeles, Arreola is a Southern California native and most in the near capacity crowd were there to cheer him on.
The cheers grew fainter, though, as the rounds added up and the crowd realized this was not going to be their man’s night.
“I couldn’t get to him,” Arreola said. “He was fighting the fight he was supposed to fight.”