Bermane Stiverne didn't dominate like he did last year, but this time, he got the stoppage. Stiverne won the vacant WBC heavyweight title with a sixth round TKO of Chris Arreola tonight in their rematch, dropping the hometown brawler twice before referee Jack Reiss stopped the fight.
Arreola (36-4, 31 KO) comes up short a second time in a world title fight, and at this point, it seems highly unlikely that he's ever going to win a world title. That said, Arreola has nothing to be ashamed of for this fight, as he got himself into proper shape, and was fighting well for the most part, though he had the same defensive lapses as usual. It turned out that the thunder of Stiverne (24-1-1, 21 KO) was just too much, as a sweeping right hand drilled Arreola on the temple and ruined his equilibrium.
With too long left in the round, Arreola was a sitting duck against the charging Stiverne, leading to the stoppage on a good call by Reiss, who gave Arreola every reasonable chance to get his legs back and stay in the fight.
"The plan was to let him get comfortable, and as soon as he got real comfortable, crack him. That's what I did," Stiverne told ESPN's Bernardo Osuna after the fight. "I was waiting on him to get comfortable, and I was being patient. As soon as he got too comfortable, that's when I threw the shot."
"Arreola makes the same mistake with all his opponents," he added, "but I'm guessing his opponents don't watch the tapes. I knew it was a wrap, and the way I can throw my power shots for 12 rounds, I knew I could knock him out, because I've got the power."
Stiverne was questioned about Deontay Wilder, his mandatory challenger, and about Wladimir Klitschko, who wants to unify all four title belts. "With all due respect, I don't give a damn about Wilder or Klitschko right now. Right now it's about what I've won."
For the 33-year-old Arreola, it's another disappointing setback. After five years since his last world title shot (a 2009 loss to Vitali Klitschko), he got another chance despite losses to Tomasz Adamek and Stiverne, and probably fought about as well as could have been reasonably expected. It just wasn't good enough to beat Stiverne tonight, as the Haitian took big shots from Arreola and looked for that counter shot opening, which he found. Once that shot drilled Arreola in the temple, the fight was pretty much over.
"I'm devastated. I'm here to win. He hit me with a tremendous right hand. That's exactly what it was. I fought a good fight. He just got me with a right hand. I couldn't get away from it," Arreola said after the fight.
"I lost the fight. It doesn't matter how tough you are. A loss is a loss. He caught me with a punch. The same punch he caught me with before. What can I do? I tip my hat. It's boxing," he added. "There's no excuses. I came to this fight prepared, ready to go all 12 rounds. But once again, he caught me."
Arreola gave no indication that he would consider anything but fighting on, saying he's got to "keep on trucking," and just keep doing what he did to prepare for this fight, saying that if he'd lost to Seth Mitchell, he would have retired, but that a loss to Stiverne is nothing to leave the sport over.
The win also means that promoter Don King has found his 109th life. When Tavoris Cloud flamed out, it looked like Don had no relevant fighters remaining. Stiverne has changed that, and he's done it with a pair of legitimate wins against a solid contender. This is no smoke and mirrors act -- Stiverne is one of the best heavyweights out there. Don's got himself one more fighter.
In the co-feature, Don King's junior welterweight prospect Amir Imam improved to 14-0 (12 KO) with a decision win over Yordenis Ugas, who fell to 15-3 (7 KO). Ugas seemed to start well and win the first three rounds at least, but he got just one round on one card (79-73), and two on the other pair of cards (78-74). BLH had it 76-76. It was an interesting fight, with good things to say about Imam. He might have been fortunate (or whatever) to get the win instead of a draw or a close loss, but he did show real potential in the fight, and that's worth remembering.