Chris Arreola admits this is it.
If the 33-year-old from Riverside, Calif., is going to be the first American in nearly seven years to become heavyweight champion of the world, he will have to defeat Canadian Bermane Stiverne on May 10 for the vacant World Boxing Council title. The belt was vacated last December by Vitali Klitschko, who had held the title since 2008. The last American to hold a share of the heavyweight title was Shannon Briggs, who was the World Boxing Organization champion from 2006 to 2007.
“It’s my last shot,” Arreola said Friday from San Diego, where he will train for the fight at USC’s Galen Center. “I don’t want to squander this opportunity.”
Arreola (36-3, 31 KOs) fought Klitschko in 2009 but was stopped in the 10th round. This is his second try at winning the WBC belt and his third attempt at becoming world champion (Arreola lost to International Boxing Federation champ Tomasz Adamek in 2010). But to do it, he’ll have to perform better this time around against Stiverne (23-1-1, 20 KOs), who is originally from Haiti, grew up in Montreal, lives in Miami and trains in Las Vegas at Floyd Mayweather’s gym.
The fight, which will be televised by ESPN, is being co-promoted by Dan Goossen and Don King. It is also a rematch of last April 27 when Stiverne broke Arreola’s nose in the third round and went on to win a 12-round unanimous decision at Ontario, Calif. Stiverne was scheduled to get a shot later in the year against Klitschko. But when Klitschko announced that he was retiring to focus on a political career in his native Ukraine, the WBC decided to put Stiverne and Arreola back in the ring to square off for the title.
“I got complacent in our first fight and I wasn’t in the best shape, and I paid for it,” Arreola said. “That won’t happen this time. I’m going to make sure I’m in shape and throw my punches with a purpose. He’s a smart fighter, so I can’t afford to be careless against him.”
■ JESSIE’S FIGHT CANCELED — Jessie Magdaleno’s April 11 fight at Mandalay Bay is off after the unbeaten super bantamweight from Las Vegas got sick last weekend and has not been able to train.
According to manager Frank Espinoza, Magdaleno (18-0, 14 KOs) was not feeling well last Saturday. His trainer, Joel Diaz, took him to a doctor in Indio, Calif., where Magdaleno trains, and it was discovered his tonsils were inflamed. Magdaleno was supposed to see a doctor in Las Vegas to get a second opinion and see if surgery would be required. In the meantime, his fight was canceled.
“He was really looking forward to coming home to Vegas to fight in front of all his fans,” Espinoza said. “But Jessie’s health comes first. I would never let one of my fighters get in the ring unless he was 100 percent healthy.
“Once he gets healthy, we’ll get him back (in the ring).”
■ LOCALS FIGHT INTERNATIONALLY — Las Vegas amateur boxers Devin Haney and Sharif Rahman are representing USA Boxing in international competitions.
Haney, a 15-year-old bantamweight who is the national junior and youth open champion, is in today’s finals of the Internacional de la Copa Boxeo Ruddy Zapata in the Dominican Republic. Haney, who won three bouts last week to make it to the gold medal bout, was one of only four Americans competing in the event.
Rahman, fighting at light heavyweight, is a member of the USA Boxing team that will compete at the Youth World Championships on April 10 to 25 in Sofia, Bulgaria. Rahman, 16, has been training at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., and a win in Bulgaria will earn him a spot at the Youth Olympic Games in late August in Nanjing, China.
Contact reporter Steve Carp at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-22913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.