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Home Boxing The Circadian Ukrainian: Cure for the Common Nightmare
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The Circadian Ukrainian: Cure for the Common Nightmare

Areolla-KlitschkoIf you’ve seen any of the “A Nightmare on Elm Street” (and you have to hand it to Wes Craven. Say the title in your head a few times. It’s creepy, isn’t it?) films, you’re probably familiar with the dream-suppressing drug, Hypnocil; usually given to half-crazy, sleep-deprived teenagers. Once taken, a character can sleep soundly without having to worry about some sadistic janitor offing him in the middle of a REM cycle. Several sequels later would go on to render most moviegoers unconscious. The same has been and, very likely, will remain to be said about the heavyweight division. With this in mind, there’s little surprise that more than one contender over 200 pounds is dubbed “The Nightmare.”

For a fight that almost wasn’t, Vitali Klitschko vs. Cristobal Arreola (for Klitschko’s WBC heavyweight title) has so many facets that are liable to give any prognosticator fits. But we try anyway. Grab a handful and you can put together a solid plan for either fighter to win on Saturday night (Staples Center, Los Angeles, California. HBO’s World Championship Boxing, 10 PM ET, 9 PM Central, 7 PM Pacific). And it opens a dialogue that few higher-profile heavyweight fights, much less title defenses, can boast.

And why not? When we’re right, we look cool (except when we pick a Mayweather fight. Then we look like we have a pulse). But as I grooved to before, this is a treasure in heavyweight pairings. Think a sure thing is easy? Think again.

An easy variable to chew on is the obvious disparity in age. Klitschko, 37-2 (36), is 38 years old and two fights into his comeback. But the comeback itself, an eighth-round shaming of “The Other Nightmare” Samuel Peter in October of last year, was a stirring return in itself; surprising those of us who thought the “Champion Emeritus” of the WBC was done in 2005 after a laundry list of injuries.

Arreola, 27-0 (24), is ten years Klitschko’s junior and not as road-worn. At the same time, Arreola’s not as experienced in the “life-or-death” struggle of Our Sport. He found himself the next-in-line alphabet candidate after besting Jameel McCline in four when former THE RING magazine World Cruiserweight Champion David Haye ducked out of his opportunity to face Klitschko.

As recently as the Timothy Bradley-Nate Campbell fight, Arreola was seen looking rather thick and very relaxed (and by “relaxed”, I mean “thick”). Some observers and insiders believed him to be somewhere in the neighborhood of 300. Arreola’s last fight didn’t feature him at his heaviest (against McCline, Arreola weighed 255) but almost seven months earlier, against Israel Garcia, “The Nightmare” came in at 258½. Three months earlier, against Chazz Witherspoon (Arreola won by disqualification in the third round when, according to referee Randy Phillips, Witherspoon’s corner entered the ring, before round’s end to help their fighter return to his corner. To most eyes, the bell rang as Witherspoon hit the canvas), Arreola weighed almost 20 pounds less. Although there is no weight limit at heavyweight, there is such a thing as being literally too heavy. Conditioning is a big part of Klitschko’s make-up. Before you disagree (which you are fully entitled to do), consider the fact that “Dr. Iron Fist” got past a four-year retirement and injuries ranging from meniscus and ligament issues to back problems and subsequent surgery to come back and stop Peter and Juan Carlos Gomez this past March.

A Thursday weigh-in revealed Arreola, at the time, to be 251. As a shot at his own image, Arreola stepped on the scales with a hidden, weighted vest coming in at 272 before recording his actual weight. Although the vest came off, the softer mid-section, unfortunately had not. Klitschko came in at 252; a career-high weight, certainly no tragedy since Klitschko has come in at or near 250 several times over the past eight years. Despite Arreola’s appearance, his conditioning is generally good and that might throw off Klitschko.

Weight notwithstanding, what makes Klitschko-Arreola interesting is who’s more open to defeat. Klistchko, a typically upright European, style-wise, has a three-inch height advantage over the 6’4” Arreola. His approach is formulaic and that’s something Arreola has to find holes in. But Klitschko’s height is a true defensive equalizer. For most fighters, moving straight back is a detriment. For Klitschko, just bending backward while using his waist as a fulcrum, serves as a means to dodge punches; especially as a follow-up to an excellent jab. This also works to attract Klitschko’s opponent like a magnet; opening up the opponent for hard straight jabs and hooks. Arreola, a big puncher, works combinations particularly well and could do well if he focused on Klitschko’s body as opposed to just straight headhunting.

Speaking of the head, chins are likely to be checked hard should either fighter grab that opening. Where Klitschko can elude headshots with little overall movement, Arreola’s used to facing tall fighters. To date, McCline is Arreola’s tallest victim at 6’6”. An inch is no huge disparity and Arreola’s no shrimp. It’ll be more work for Klitschko to make Arreola miss than it will be for Arreola to connect. But as I mentioned, a key strategy would be for Arreola to open up the penthouse by bombing the first floor.

There’s little argument as to which Klitschko brother can eat a punch and stay lucid. To many, Vitali erased the stigma he suffered from being too careful against Chris Byrd (Klitschko capitulated after suffering a shoulder injury) in April of 2000 by going balls out against former Undisputed Heavyweight Champion Lennox Lewis in June of 2003. Klitschko didn’t just take the shots, he bled for them to the tune of a sixth-round stoppage when he was ahead 58-56 on all three judges’ scorecards. Arreola, whose last seven fights (including the Witherspoon DQ win) have ended in four rounds or less, will have a longer night in store for him if he’s just depending on testing the WBC titlist’s chin.

Klitschko, on the other hand, owns 36 knockout wins among 37 total wins. This amounts to a 92% knockout ratio. Pretty staggering when you also factor in that no Klitschko opponent since Timo Hoffmann (UD 12 back in November of 2000) has seen the final bell and that was because the Hoffmann fight was Klitschko’s first since the injury against Byrd.

Arreola, more mobile in comparison, will have to blur any patterns Klitschko can pick up on lest the latter uses his reach to beat Arreola to his own destination.

Arreola can’t make Klitschko miss all night. Eventually, he’ll hit a lull, probably around round eight or nine, drop his guard or have his guard sliced by Klitschko’s jab, and get laid out by a series of hooks upstairs. Not exactly a science here, but it makes sense; especially if Chris Arreola takes Vitali Klitschko’s age and health history for granted.

Klitschko might not make it out entirely unscathed. If he’s forced to bend on that fulcrum in his back, he could re-aggravate old injuries. As for his knees, that’s anyone’s guess.

But the threat of injury had no effect on Klitschko in the Peter or Gomez fights and it’s doubtful that they’ll hold him back against Arreola. The problems will emerge post-fight, when the Klitschko brothers shed up a round table to determine who’s next on the heavyweight title chopping block. Odds are, THE RING magazine World Heavyweight Champion/younger brother Wladimir will defend his strap against whoever the IBF, IBO, KGB or WTF mandates him to and Vitali might just get the chance to bail a little Haye, should the British upstart get his way with (or lose against) WBA titlist Nicolay Valuev.

In the end, the heavyweight division will only wind up putting you to sleep again. But you won’t need Hypnocil because the nightmares will be gone.

Associate Editor Coyote Duran almost considered taking the nickname “Nightmare” until he decided “The Midnight Snack” was a better fit. If you’d like to know why Frosted Flakes taste so good in the middle of the night, please e-mail him at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . You can also track Coyote at www.myspace.com/coyote_duran and www.facebook.com/CoyoteDuran or grab your favorite munchies and stare blankly at www.convictedartist.com/coyote_duran.html.
But he doesn’t “Tweet.” Sorry.

Coyote Duran
www.convictedartsit.com

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