The Wheel

Every week The Fight Voice will bring fans, followers and believers THE WHEEL! The Wheel takes you around the fight game and previews upcoming fight schedules, discusses breaking stories, and most importantly provides unfiltered opinion from The Fight Voice crew.

Week: May 12 – 19

Turn it Up!
The Fight Voice crew goes “unfiltered” with some thoughts, opinions and chatter

Two Steps Forward and Three Steps Back…
The days of a strong heavyweight division with highly marketable fighters are all but gone and show no signs of returning anytime soon. Deontay Wilder remains the only American heavyweight who stands a chance against lineal champion Wladimir Klitschko, but it doesn’t appear that fight is anywhere on the horizon.

On Saturday, May 10 in Los Angeles American and Mexican fans were given some hope as brawler Chris Arreola faced off against Haitian-born Bermane Stiverne in a fight that had title implications down the road. Unfortunately, Arreola was handed a sixth round knockout due to referee stoppage as Stiverne sent Arreola to the canvas twice. Recently, the WBC made a push for a mandatory title defense of Stiverne who will be forced to take on Wilder later this year. While this is great news the fact of the matter remains that the fight we need to see is very far away.

The absence of an American heavyweight who could challenge pound for pound king Wladimir Klitschko has taken its toll on boxing fans. The hope that Arreola, who has a large fan base of both Americans and Mexicans, could be the next big star took a few steps back on Saturday night as Arreola fell hard to Stiverne in round 6. Stiverne, who already handed Arreola a loss one year ago, was in trouble early as Arreola was able to get close to Stiverne and land some nice combinations. Stiverne adapted quickly and went back to the basics landing a sweeping overhand right that knocked Arreola to the mat. Arreola was never able to recover.

Chris Arreola, who was fighting in front of a mostly hometown crowd, was disappointed by the loss and unfortunately his future could be uncertain. Bermane Stiverne, who became the first Haitian-born champion, showed his speed and power on Saturday and thankfully will be forced by the WBC to defend his belt against the rangy and athletic Deontay Wilder.

This is where the heavyweight division gets interesting. Klitschko, who already owns three of the major belts and is the lineal champion, is very interested in winning his fourth belt by taking the fight with Bermane Stiverne. If victorious, not only would Klitschko own all four belts, but he would bring Stiverne’s belt back home as that title was vacated by his brother Vitali Klitschko years ago. A unification bout with these ramifications would cement Klitschko’s career and make him one of the most memorable heavyweights of all time.

But of course there is always a catch. As of this week the IBF has ordered Wladimir Klitschko to make a mandatory title defense against Bulgarian heavyweight Kubrat Pulev. Klitschko, who just turned 38 year old, may not have many more fights left. Even though his fights are as exciting as watching paint dry you have to wonder when his age and political commitments to his country will take precedence over his historic boxing career. Given the fact that he has not been challenged in five years and that he can exit the sweet science on top you have to start considering each fight as potentially his last. Pulev, who is unbeaten, claims to have a style that will challenge Klitschko, but quite honestly I don’t believe it.

The one man in the heavyweight division who gets no love and is consistently avoided is Deontay Wilder. While Klitschko is busy setting attendance records overseas and taking bouts with fighters who are nine inches smaller than him, Wilder, a rangy, physical and explosive heavyweight has been pulverizing his opponents to the tune of 31-0. Wilder’s physical stature and range make him a dangerous opponent for Klitschko and one that I believe can give him a run for his money. But when does this fight (if ever) happen? Well fight fans…it could happen very soon in fact. Given the recent news that Stiverne is being forced to defend his belt against Wilder, fans should be cheering for Wilder without question. Not only is Wilder talented, undefeated and exciting, but a victory over Stiverne will give Wilder the WBC belt – the one that Wladimir Klitschko desperately wants. .

Welcome Back to The Forum Fight Fans
There are three major sports tragedies in Southern California that make no sense to me whatsoever. The first is the absence of a NFL franchise in Los Angeles – a city that has real diehard sports fans, transplants from every city in the country, an endless amount of celebrities and music stars and last but not least the best weather in the country. The second is the fact that San Diego has not embraced boxing and made a real push to get a major HBO or Showtime event in a city that is rich with boxing history, talent and real fight fans. The third and final tragedy is that The Forum has not hosted a memorable prizefight since 1999. A venue with such a rich sports history is the perfect home for boxing in Southern California and I am hoping that it continues to be in the rotation going forward.

On Saturday, May 17, at The Forum in Inglewood, California, fight fans are in for a treat as Mexican legend Juan Manuel Marquez faces off against Denver fighter Mike Alvarado. Both fighters are faced with a fight that could have significant effects on their careers. Marquez, who is only getting older, is close to finishing up a hall of fame career and Alvarado, who is still young, desperately needs a win to stay in the mix. The winner of this exciting fight would receive a mandatory shot at WBO champion Manny Pacquiao. Will it be a fifth fight between Marquez and Pacquiao? Or will Alvarado get a shot at the eight-time champion in a title fight that would surely put him on the big stage.

At the age of 40, Marquez is still a top flight fighter who continues to excel. Despite his recent loss to Timothy Bradley, Marquez, a throwback fighter, expects to win his bout against Alvarado and anticipates a fifth fight with WBO champion Manny Pacquiao later this year.

But Alvarado may have a different plan. A young, exciting fighter who possesses a good chin and likes to throw high-punch combinations, Alvarado expects that Marquez may be looking past him. And according to Alvarado that would be a mistake. After Alvarado’s recent loss to Ruslan Provodnikov, in what was a fight of the year candidate in 2013, Alvarado moved his training camp away from home to avoid distractions. He fully expects this fight to go his way and is confident that he could be the guy who puts the Mexican legend Juan Manuel Marquez into retirement once and for all.

The 2014 fight season has been memorable so far and shows no signs of slowing down. The fight between Marquez and Alvarado is a perfect throwback bout that is sure to please. Both fighters have embraced the toe-to-toe, ‘fighting in a phone booth’ style and with so much at stake on Saturday night I fully expect both men to leave it all in the ring.

Whip Around!

Bermane Stiverne becomes first Haitian-born champion
In the days leading up to the highly anticipated heavyweight title fight and rematch between Bermane Stiverne and Chris Arreola most of the media hype circled around Arreola’s personal story, which included a drastic change in how the fighter was handling his training, diet and antics outside of the ring. Lost in the shuffle was Haitian-born Bermane Stiverne who was coming into the fight with a 24-1-1 record, which included a knockout win over Chris Arreola nearly one year ago.

Stiverne spent most of the first four rounds with his back against the ropes taking shots from Arreola. While Arreola was landing combinations it was never apparent that Stiverne was hurt and Stiverne was landing much harder shots throughout the fight. In a spirited round one, Stiverne landed a straight right that wobbled Arreola at the end of the round. As expected Arreola became tired in round five and allowed Stiverne to implement his strategy by keeping the fight in the middle of the ring. It would only be a matter of time until Stiverne was able to take what he learned from Arreola and land the same right hand that sent Arreola to the ground one year ago.

There is no doubt that this was a different Arreola and that his time at House of Boxing San Diego coupled with a new diet and staying away from the nightlife did wonders for Arreola’s cardio. His punches were crisp. His footwork was really good. And for four rounds he controlled the fight.

The fight started fast for Arreola as he pushed the pace and applied constant pressure keeping Stiverne against the ropes for the first two rounds. Stiverne was able to avoid many of the big shots and didn’t seem hurt until Arreola landed a straight right hand that landed flush on Stiverne’s chin. The punch seemed to back Stiverne up and caused him to grab hold of Arreola. Stiverne, who relied on his fast hands and flip-jab to keep Arreola at bay, started to gain some momentum and land big shots on Arreola in round three. The fight was a very good back and forth through the first four rounds and fans looked forward to a long night. However, the fight seemed to be changing slightly and the halfway point of the bout would validate that.

In the sixth round Stiverne used what he had learned in his first fight with Arreola and was able to land a stiff right hand that wobbled Arreola ultimately sending him to the mat. Arreola was able to beat the count but he was clearly hurt and Stiverne smelled blood in the water. The referee was forced to stop the fight as Arreola could not defend himself and there was too much time left in the round.

A disappointed Chris Arreola felt he was winning the fight up until the knockdown and two judges had the fight scored 48-47. It was truly disappointing for Arreola as he worked very hard to get his body and mind right, and with the loss to Stiverne it is uncertain what Arreola’s future may hold. Bermane Stiverne, who now holds the legendary ‘green’ belt and is the first Haitian-born heavyweight champion, has been ordered by the WBC to make a mandatory title defense against undefeated rising star Deontay Wilder. The result of Stiverne-Wilder can have a serious impact on the heavyweight division as the winner will most likely face heavyweight king Wladimir Klitschko in a unification bout next year.

On the Docket

May 15
Fox Sports 1/Fox Deportes – Del Mar, CA: Antonio Orozco vs. Martin Honorio, 10 rounds, junior welterweights; Manuel Avila vs. David De La Mora, 10 rounds, junior featherweights; Manuel Roman vs. Jose Silveira, 4 rounds, bantamweights; Prince Smalls vs. Victor Serrano

May 16
ESPN2/ESPN Deportes – Montreal: Delvin Rodriguez vs. Joachim Alcine, 10 rounds, junior middleweights; Derric Rossy vs. Joe Hanks, 10 rounds, heavyweights; Francois Miville vs. Walid Smichet, 6 rounds, light heavyweights; Mario Perez vs. Christian Uruzquieta, 6 rounds, lightweights; Kevin Lavalle vs. James Owens, 6 rounds, junior lightweights

Showtime – Mashantucket, Conn: Joel Diaz Jr. vs. Tyler Asselstine, 10 rounds, junior lightweights; Frank Galarza vs. Sebastien Bouchard, 8 rounds, junior middleweights; Travis Peterkin vs. Larry Pryor, 8 rounds, light heavyweights; Bryant Cruz vs. Osnell Charles, 6 rounds, junior lightweights; Gervonta Davis vs. Joshua Arocho, 4 rounds, featherweights; John Magda vs. David Courchaine, 4 rounds, super middleweights; Kareem Martin vs. Azamat Umarzoda, 4 rounds, welterweights

May 17
HBO Championship Boxing – Inglewood, Calif: Juan Manuel Marquez vs. Mike Alvarado, 12 rounds, WBO welterweight eliminator; Viktor Postol vs. Selcuk Aydin, 12 rounds, WBC junior welterweight eliminator; Diego Magdaleno vs. Oscar Bravo, 10 rounds, junior lightweights; Brad Solomon vs. Armen Ovsepyan, 10 rounds, welterweights; Oscar Valdez vs. Noel Echevarria

See you next week on The Wheel!

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