As a late replacement main event on Friday Night Fights — Steve Upsher Chambers-Josesito Lopez fell apart, lamentably — Chris Arreola-Kendrick Releford wasn’t much of a substitute for a more meaningful, potentially competitive fight. But at least we got to see a talented, exciting heavyweight show off what his new, slimmer physique could do for him against an opponent who could move a little. Arreola was much more nimble than the old fat version of himself, and Releford wasn’t nimble enough to do anything about it. Arreola hammered him with body shots and left uppercuts until one of those uppercuts forced Releford to take a knee in the 6th. From there, it was only a matter of time until it got stopped, and the referee stepped in when a stiff left hook stopped Releford in his tracks in the 7th, whereupon Arreola pushed him back to the ropes and landed a couple more shots. ESPN2’s Teddy Atlas thought Arreola’s defense was better because of the weight loss, too, and he’s probably right. It was a very nice performance by Arreola, whom I now unreservedly love; now that I’m not frustrated by how blubbery he is (and this is three consecutive fights in reasonable shape), all I notice is that he’s got a great personality, he’s an offensive beast and he could make for any number of good bouts in the division. So, let’s see him make them.
In the more meaningful heavyweight fight on the card, Tony Thompson had an easy time with Maurice Harris, who landed a couple good blows at most en route to a 3rd round stoppage. Thompson was much more accurate than Harris, who tried to move around a little bit but might have been hampered by his higher-than-ideal weight of 255 1/2, suggesting that his talk of a new focus was only talk. Thompson dropped Harris with a right hook in the 2nd, after which Harris looked disinterested in fighting on, then dropped Harris again in the 3rd with a flurry, who got up but got stopped by the referee’s call when Thompson put another flurry on him. I remember Thompson looking faster than this in the past, so I wonder if his age — 39 — is catching up to him, but he’s a southpaw who knows how to fight, so he’ll be a tough out for a while longer even if he is slowing down. Next for him is Eddie Chambers, with the winner getting a shot at a belt currently held by real heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko, whom stopped Thompson in 2008. As Thompson told the camera after the victory, he is personally close with Chambers, but he’d fight his brother to get another shot at a Klitschko. There might be some who will think of Thompson-Chambers as a “boring” fight, but Chambers can be moderately fun when he’s active and aggressive, while Thompson obviously can end a fight with his power. I hope that fight gets picked up somewhere, be it ESPN2 or Epix or whatever.
Lastly, junior middleweight and 2008 U.S. Olympian Javier Molina got a test from David Lopez, even though he shut him out in a six-round decision. Either the matchmakers looked at Lopez’ record and thought he’d be an easy out, or they picked him because they knew he would be competitive and had never been knocked out. I hope it’s the latter. This is a fight that will help Molina grow. I’m not sure what, if anything, it says about his power, given that Lopez hadn’t been knocked out, but Molina did deck Lopez with a straight right in the 1st. Molina performed admirably, overall. He might be an overlooked cat in a 2008 U.S. Olympian class that has, thus far, failed to impress much.