Two heavyweight bouts of interest on April 11th: Top-ten Chris Arreola takes on Jameel McCline tonight, while unranked but much-talked-about prospect Tyson Fury is scheduled to fight Matthew Ellis tonight in London today.
Arreola is ranked #6 by SportsRatings and has a record of 26-0-0; only one of those fights went the distance. His opponent, #125 Jameel McCline (32-9-3) is also known as a power puncher at 6' 6" and 271 pounds at weigh-in.
Arreola—often criticized over his weight issues—came in at 255, roughly the same as for his last two fights and 25 pounds heavier than he was two years ago. He weighed 240 in his DQ stoppage of #31 Chazz Witherspoon last summer. Arreola's power is not questioned; he likes to mix it up and calls himself a "banger" in the ring. But as he moves up and takes on better fighters, some question his dedication to becoming a champion if he can't control his weight. Others simply don't think he'll be in good enough shape to win a protracted battle that lasts to the late rounds.
McCline is expected to be a good test for Arreola but one that he should pass regardless. McCline has knockout punch capability but has a tendency to let fights get away with him. The obvious example is his match against Samuel Peter where he dominated the early rounds, flooring Peter three times but ultimately losing a unanimous decision. Arreola, too, was floored early in his last bout against Travis Walker before rebounding to stop Walker in round three, so expect the early rounds to be volatile.
Assuming Arreola survives the early rounds he should have little problem. His weight won't be an issue against McCline. He likes to slug it out and his defense is sometimes careless, so he could find himself on the canvas again. But McCline hasn't shown the ability to capitalize on early success, and hasn't defeated a top-ranked fighter in quite a while. Arreola is too far behind #5 Alex Povetkin to move up from beating McCline, but it should give him more experience against taller fighters and heavy punchers for his eventual inevitable collision with a Klitschko. A surprise loss would drop Arreola out of the top ten and propel McCline back into the top 25 where he hasn't resided for quite some time. It would also make Arreola rethink his commitment to the sport, hopefully in a positive way as Arreola is good for the heavyweight division—it needs fighters who go on the offensive.
Fury: All Hype or Heavyweight Hope?
Another much-watched fight takes place in London, where undefeated Tyson Fury (4-0-0 all KO) takes on journeyman Matthew Ellis (20-6-1) in his first bout against a fighter ranked by SportsRatings. Ellis is currently #366, so if Fury wins he will be "registered" into the system and probably rank just inside or just outside the top 100.
Fury's fights up to this point have shown his potential as well as some rough edges. Some think he could develop into a contender while others criticize him as an over-hyped non-prospect like Tye Fields. His height (somewhere between 6' 7" and 6' 9") invites comparisons to Fields as well as the Klitschkos, which is quite a range. Which will it be?
In terms of strengths, Fury has shown a good jab and uppercut, and moves his feet pretty well for such a big fighter. He's also got a decent chin, though it's hardly been tested. He claims never to have been knocked down in any fight in his life; at age 20, that doesn't say much, but he took up boxing at a very young age, which draws a big distinction between himself and someone like Fields.
He has weaknesses too, of course. He doesn't seem to hit particularly hard for a 250 pound fighter; his arms look somewhat skinny for a heavyweight. And he isn't really in perfect shape, either. Considering that he's very tall, only 20 years old and should have the highest metabolism of his life, his physique is a bit doughy. Not every tall athlete is Michael Phelps but most taller, skinnier fighters are fairly "cut" and Fury looks like he could be hitting both the weights and track a bit more.
Ellis' ring experience and quality will be a step up for Fury compared to his early foes, but Ellis is at a great disadvantage in the bout. There is a major size discrepancy, Ellis being slightly under 6' himself. He's been fighting some bouts at cruiserweight recently, too, losing to Tony Moran and Enzo Maccarinelli. In fact he's lost five of his last nine fights, all due to stoppage. Put this all together and he is unlikely to find success in London this evening.
The jury is still out on Fury, of course. He certainly doesn't appear to be clueless like Fields, but it's too early to foresee him developing into a Klitschko. More likely he could hope to duplicate the success of Alex Dimitrenko, another young, tall prospect now in the top ten with potential to go higher. Like Arreola, Fury is good for the heavyweight division. He gives people someone else to talk about, a new up-and-coming face. It's also refreshing to see a prospect who actually is young, rather than 29 years old like most of the "young" prospects in the division. Another thing that's great about Fury is that he's been extremely active, fighting every month since December and with another bout possibly later this month. Hmm, a very young heavyweight, fighting every month and winning by KO each time—maybe he's hoping to repeat the script of another fighter with the "Tyson" name?