PBC and Showtime put on a show

Luis Gonzalez, Sports Editor

It’s boxing. There will be good fights and there will be bad fights. On Saturday, July 18, Premiere Championship Boxing and Showtime Championship Boxing made their way to the Don Haskins for a full day of boxing. On a day where two title belts were on the line, undefeated Irishman Carl Frampton made his American debut, former heavyweight contender Chris Arreola fought to a draw, up and coming Amir Imam earned a title shot and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. beat fellow Mexican Marco Reyes.

The day got started early, with fights beginning at noon inside the Don, but the cameras came on for Arreola’s fight against Cameroonian Fred Kassi and for the Frampton versus Mexico’s Alejandro Gonzalez bout.

Kassi, about to turn 36, was supposed to be a comfortable opponent for Arreola as he looks for another heavyweight title opportunity, but “Big Fred,” as Kassi is nicknamed, gave Arreola all he could handle.

Kassi was the more active fighter throughout the 10 rounds of action. Kassi out-threw Arreola 534-317 and out landed him 135-97. Although his punches never seemed to really hurt Arreola, Kassi was significantly more effective and precise with his offense.

After the 10 rounds, one judge gave the bout to Arreola and the other two called it a draw, rendering the fight a majority draw. “Big Fred” was not pleased with the outcome.

“I’m not happy (with the decision),” Kassi said. “I won every round of the fight. I showed tonight I was the better fighter.”

Throughout the fight, Kassi switched back and forth between left and right stances, causing trouble for Arreola, who never really looked comfortable inside the ring.

“He was very awkward,” Arreola said. “It was just a tough fight. Fred came to fight and he is a survivor. He held right, he moved right. He came here with a good strategy and got a draw out of it.”

“The Nightmare” Arreola will continue to work toward another title opportunity, like the one he got in 2009 against Vitali Klitschko, and then again versus Tomasz Adamek in 2010.

“Obviously, I’m not ready to fight with (Deontay) Wilder,” Arreola said. “I want to earn that shot and I didn’t today. I want to get back in the gym right away and fight as quickly as possible.”

In the main event of the first half of the doubleheader, undefeated junior featherweight champion, “The Jackal” Frampton, was dropped twice in the first round before beating Gonazalez by a unanimous decision.

“I didn’t feel great in the first round,” Frampton said. “I got up from two flash knockdowns and recovered well.”

Gonzalez, a fighter the Frampton camp had labeled out of his depth, had a game plan that he executed almost to perfection in the early going.

The taller, longer “Cobrita,” as Gonzalez is nicknamed, caught Frampton with a counter left hook. Frampton’s hand touched the canvas, prompting the referee to start the count. A straight right hand forced the referee to give Frampton the count once again just seconds later.

“The kid could punch very well,” Frampton said. “(But) I came back and won most of the rounds and gave excitement.”

It took Frampton a couple of rounds to settle back into the fight, but once he did, “The Jackal” took control of the fight and never looked back.

Gonzalez was warned on several occasions for hitting Frampton below the belt. It would result in a point deduction in the third round, but that did not hurt Frampton’s case for getting back into the fight. Gonzalez’ work to Frampton’s body diminished round by round.

“The ref overreacted to the low blows, I was just doing my body work,” Gonzalez said. “I’m not a dirty fighter, I play by the rules and this was disappointing.”

Once settled, the faster, more experienced Frampton set the tone for the fight and Gonzalez was never really able to regain the control he had in the early stages of the fight. The “Cobrita” did not make it easy for Frampton–making the champ work for every round.

The 22-year-old Gonzalez even felt like he did enough to earn the decision and the belt.

“I definitely, on the fight, I was much more effective,” Gonzalez said. “I want a rematch and I’m happy to do it in his hometown. He’s a good fighter, but I’m the best he’s ever faced.”

Although he got the victory, Frampton was not satisfied with his performance as this was his introduction to the American boxing market.

“The statement I made wasn’t great,” Frampton said. “I wanted to win by KO. It didn’t happen, I’m disappointed, but I’ll evaluate and move on.”

Amir “Young Master” Imam got the second half of the doubleheader started by disposing of Ecuadorian Fernando Angulo. It was an entertaining fight while it lasted.

A one-two combination in the fourth round sent Angulo to the floor with his body stiff as a board. There was no count needed from the referee, and it was apparent from the time Angulo hit the ground that the fight was over.

“I take my hat off, he’s a good opponent,” Imam said. “I just hit him with a big shot on his ear and he was done.”

The fight was a WBC junior welterweight super eliminator, meaning the winner would receive a title shot in their next bout. At 24 years of age, and an 18-0 record Imam is now in line to fight for the vacant WBC junior welterweight title. But that’s not the only thing Imam’s promoter, Don King, has in his sights for the young boxer’s future.

“He demonstrated the skill, the agility, the ability, the dexterity and the punching power to steal tonight’s show,” King said. “We’re calling out Floyd Mayweather…we want the best out there.”

The second fight of the Showtime card was for the vacant junior bantamweight title. Undefeated fighters McJoe Arroyo and Arthur Villanueva promised to put on a show, but it turned out to be an unwatchable affair that saw Arroyo win the belt on a technical decision due to a cut above Villanueva’s eye.

The over-9,000 fans in attendance cheered when Villanueva and Arroyo finally left the ring, not just because the fight was finally over, but because it meant the main event of the evening was next.

For the first time that evening, the atmosphere was different. The crowd was invested in this fight.

Chavez Jr., a former middleweight champion, is mainly known for his legendary father Julio Cesar Chavez, and for his lack of discipline and credibility when it comes to opponents, which makes him quite the polarizing figure among boxing fans.

After failing to make weight once again, Chavez Jr. was clearly the bigger stronger fighter when he stepped into the ring. Reyes, nicknamed “El Dorado,” was the active precise one from the start, but the smaller man from Chihuahua, Chihuahua, Mexico, could never hurt Chavez Jr.

“That was a difference,” Reyes said. “He was much bigger. I made weight. He didn’t make weight. He was like a light heavyweight in there, but I put up a good fight.”

Chavez Jr., on the other hand, worked inconsistently throughout the fight, but every time he landed a punch, Reyes seemed to feel it. Although Reyes was landing more punches, Chavez landed his harder.

During several instances of the fight, Chavez Jr. took total control of the fight, using his jab effectively and keeping his smaller opponent at bay. But he was never consistent and the fight would go the distance to everybody’s disappointment.

The son of the legend attributed his lack of finishing power to an injury.

“The guy is a good fighter,” Chávez Jr. said. “I hurt my hand. Is it broken? Maybe. I’ll see the doctor. I hurt him to the body, but I didn’t finish him.”

Chavez Jr. earned a unanimous decision after 10 rounds. The mismatch between fighters and several instances where Chavez Jr. complained to the referee left the crowd unhappy with the decision.

Nonetheless, Chavez Jr. was pleased with his performance as he continues to try and return to the top of the middleweight division and make a name for himself in the world of boxing.

“I felt good in there. I felt like I did some good things,” Chavez Jr. said. “Reyes is a tough fighter and I expected him to give me his best and he did.”

Luis Gonzalez may be reached at [email protected]