It was a new place to practice their craft, but the two-headed monster promoted by Dan Goossen and named Arreola/Williams seemed to feel right at home Saturday night at the new Citizens Bank Arena in Ontario.
The crowd was listed as 5,400, in a new stadium that can seat 10,000 for events such as boxing, and that seemed a decent crowd for a sport that hasn't been featured in this region in some time.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Friday, December 12, 2008 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 54 words Type of Material: Correction
Boxing: Articles on the heavyweight fight between Chris Arreola and Travis Walker in Sports on Nov. 29 and Nov. 30 said Arreola was on a quest to become the first Mexican heavyweight champion. He would be the first champion of Mexican descent, but he is a Mexican American who was born in Los Angeles.
The new arena has already played host to the likes of a Lakers exhibition game. But if fans thought that was a lot of action, they should have seen what went on in the boxing ring.
In a night of blood, guts and thunder, heavyweight Chris Arreola destroyed Florida fighter Travis Walker with so many huge punches in the second and third rounds that both the ring uprights and the arena were rocking.
Arreola finally finished Walker, after being down once himself in the second round and punching Walker to the ground twice himself in the same round, with a huge left hook. That left Walker crumbled in a corner, referee Jack Reiss hovered over him to make sure he had no ideas of getting up.
Which, as it turned out, was a good idea on Reiss' part.
"I wanted to continue," Walker said. "I didn't think I was hurt. . . . I was surprised I started to get hurt. He did get good shots in, all on point."
Three rounds of incredible action, and that wasn't even the main event.
In that one, the rubber man, Paul Williams, all 6 feet 2 and 154 pounds, with legs like twigs and hands like hammers, wore down 39-year-old Verno Phillips to the point that he remained in his corner after the eighth round.
Neither fighter had gone down, but Williams, who is lanky and has a reach that forces opponents to attack by wading through three or four shots just to get into range, beat up Phillips badly.
Paul Wallace, the ringside physician, who recommended to Phillips' corner that their fighter had had enough, said, "He was ready to go. He wasn't answering questions appropriately. The difference [in how Phillips was] between the seventh and eighth round was a lot."
Williams' main problem in this fight was the cut he suffered over his right eye in the first round. It did not come from a punch, but from a head butt, and if Wallace had ruled it was bad enough to stop the fight in the first four rounds, the result of the match would have gone to the judges' card.
But Williams survived it well.
"That's the first time I bled like that," said Williams, who has fought 37 professional matches and won 36. "I had blood in my eye a lot, but I did what I had to do."
Williams said he thought the third round was the turning point.
"I could feel Verno's legs leaving him," Williams said.
In the first round of the Arreola-Walker fight, Arreola could probably feel his unbeaten record (26-0), not to mention his quest to become the first Mexican heavyweight champion, leaving him.
Walker unloaded several times and even scored a rare knockdown against this tattooed block of granite.
"He's a strong guy," Arreola said. "In the first round, I wanted to see how much power he had."
Arreola, the frequent subject of criticism over the weight he carries into the ring -- 254 pounds Saturday night -- said afterward, "I'm not concerned about my weight. I just wanted to go to war."
He also admitted, however, that he would be back in training Monday.
Mentioned often in post-fight interviews were the names of the Klitschko brothers, Wladimir and Vitali, along with Antonio Margarito.
The Ukrainian Klitschkos, each holding a belt in separate heavyweight groups, seem to be the goal of Arreola and his promoter, Goossen.
Asked in the ring afterward whether he thought he was now ready to fight one of them, Arreola answered by saying, "Ask the fans."
Margarito is a world-class fighter who Williams beat a year ago at the Home Depot Center in a result that shocked the boxing world. Now, Williams and Goossen seem to be pushing for a rematch and the big payday that would come with it.
"I'll get in the ring with anybody," Williams said.
Getting in the ring too Saturday night was Shawn Estrada, the Olympian from East Los Angeles, who won his professional debut with a first-round technical knockout of Lawrence Jones in a middleweight bout.