BIRMINGHAM: Despite fighting mostly one-armed for half the fight, Deontay Wilder remained in control in the ring before quickly heading to the hospital. Wilder retained his WBC heavyweight title with a technical knockout when Chris Arreola’s corner stopped the fight after the eighth round Saturday night at Legacy Arena.
Arreola’s left eye appeared swollen shut. An injured Wilder (37-0, 36 knockouts) knocked down Arreola in the fourth and peppered him with left jabs and hooks after landing hard rights early. Promoter Lou DiBella said Wilder was taken to nearby UAB Hospital after a doctor confirmed he had a broken right hand and a probable distal tear in that biceps. Both injuries happened early in the fight.
Wilder showed reporters his injured biceps as he headed to the locker room and said he was already certain the hand was broken. He threw the right, his biggest weapon, sparingly after the fourth round. Even hurting, Wilder didn’t lose his bravado. Before leaving the ring, he was talking about wanting to fight the winner of the upcoming Wladimir Klitschko-Tyson Fury fight or Anthony Joshua.
“My goal is to unify the division,” said Wilder, who didn’t hold a post-fight news conference. “I’m one of the baddest, hardest-hitting heavyweights in the business. Right here from Alabama, baby. I came a long way. So whoever’s got those belts, that’s who I want. It don’t matter if I got a broke hand, got a torn muscle, I’m going to fight like heavyweight champions do. I don’t play boxing. Of course I want the Furys, of course I want the Joshuas but the question is, do they want me?”
It was Wilder’s fourth title defense and third in Birmingham, about an hour from his hometown of Tuscaloosa Arreola (36-5-1) took the fight on short notice after Wilder’s mandatory defense against Russian Alexander Povetkin was called off in May. Povetkin failed a drug test. Wilder wobbled Arreola with a right hand then knocked him down with a barrage late in the fourth. He had Arreola off-balance on the ropes when the round ended.
With his right hand mostly out of commission, Wilder appeared to hurt Arreola again with a left in the final seconds of the seventh. Wilder also broke his right hand in winning the title against Bermane Stiverne in January 2015 and had surgery. He had a wound on his right elbow going into the fight, and it was bleeding by the end in addition to his more serious injuries.
“I wanted to give you guys a knockout, but I broke my hand and I tore a muscle in my right hand,” Wilder told the crowd of nearly 12,000. “I couldn’t show it, because Chris is a tough, tough man. I had to fight like a champion, like a champion (does) and use my jab all night.” Wilder connected on 152 of 346 punches (43.9 percent). Arreola landed only once in the first round and connected on 52 of 188 (27.7 percent).
Wilder had to go looking for another opponent after his May fight with the WBC mandatory challenger Povetkin in Russia fell through. Povetkin tested positive for the banned substance meldonium. Wilder has filed suit seeking at least $5 million in damages after losing that $4,369,000 payday plus a potential bonus for a victory. He settled for some $3 million less ($1.4 million) for the fight with Arreola, calling him the perfect opponent because of his heart and toughness.
Arreola indeed withstood a barrage and landed some body shots at times after getting Wilder against the ropes. At least twice, Wilder made a gesture with his hips while absorbing those punches. Arreola, who made $150,000 for the figth, had previously lost title shots to Vitali Klitschko and Stiverne. Wilder claimed Stiverne’s title with a unanimous decision in January 2015, which remains his only professional fight to go the distance. Arreola’s majority decision over Travis Kauffman in December was ruled a no contest when he tested positive for marijiuana. – AP