In 2009, undefeated prospect Chris Arreola was adorned the crown of "Great American Heavyweight Hope." While he wasn't considered a sure thing, he was (at minimum) the best real hope America had at the time for dethroning a Klitschko brother any time soon.
On September 26, 2009, though, that crown was forcefully removed by WBC heavyweight champion Vitali Klitsckho over 10, brutal, one-sided rounds.
Coming into the fight a robust 251 pounds, Arreola was beaten to the punch at almost every turn, losing virtually every round of the fight until the contest was mercifully halted at the end of Round 10.
After the setback, he rebounded nicely to destroy journeyman tough guy Brian Minto in four rounds, but then faltered when he faced former cruiserweight champion Tomasz Adamek. It was a good old-fashioned rumble, but ultimately it seemed the again-too-heavy Arreola just could not compete in the championship rounds. By the end of the contest, his punches seemed sapped for strength, and he ended up losing a close, but fair, majority decision.
When he came into his next contest weighing 256 pounds, he appeared to be heading toward heavyweight obscurity. But after going the distance against overmatched Manuel Quezada, Arreola decided to rededicate himself to his craft. He decided to get fit and stay that way.
After defeating Quezada and the equally unimpressive Joey Abell, Arreola beat up journeymen heavyweights Nagy Aguilera, Kendrick Releford, Friday Ahunanya and Raphael Butler to bring his winning streak up to six fights.
While it hasn't exactly been a "murderers' row" of opponents, his consistency on the scales has renewed enthusiasm in his once promising career. Instead of battling the bulge to stay under 250, Arreola has stayed between 234-241 pounds quite comfortably over his last four fights.
Even Vitali Klitsckho is taking notice. Speaking to the media recently in preparation for his Feb. 18th battle with Dereck Chisora, Klitschko made remarks indicating a rematch with Arreloa could very well be on the horizon.
"The United States is the Mecca of boxing," said the champion when asked about fighting in the U.S. again, "but for that we need just one important point -- a good American challenger."
When asked specifically whether he'd consider fighting Arreola again, Klitsckho was clear and concise.
"Sure, why not? I'd be happy to give him second chance."
Thanks to hard work and rededication, Chris Arreola is dangerously close to once again being recognized as the "Great American Heavyweight Hope." In fact, his promoter, Dan Goosen, believes he already is.
"I'm tired of hearing we don't have any American heavyweights. Arreola has fought five times in a short period of time last year, he's gotten his weight down ... if anybody overlooks him ... they're making a mistake."
"He's out there to win the title, whether there's a Klitschko there or not."
Very likely, there will be a Klitschko brother "there" to face Arreola someday soon. If not Vitali, then IBF, WBO and WBA champion Wladimir, who has expressed interest in fighting Arreola in the past. For now, though, Arreola remains on the cusp of being right back where he was in 2009: America's best hope for heavyweight glory.
Chris Arreola is scheduled to face Eric Molina (18-1, 14 KOs) this Saturday at the American Bank Center in Corpus Christi, Texas. The event will be broadcast live on Showtime Extreme at 8 p.m. ET.