© Jan Sanders/Goossen Tutor Promotions
Vitali “Dr. Ironfist” Klitschko will return to the famous site of two of his most memorable fights Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, when he defends his WBC heavyweight title against unbeaten, WBC No. 1-ranked Cristobal “The Nightmare’’ Arreola on Saturday, September 26.
The exciting Klitschko, of Los Angeles and Hamburg, Germany, will bring a record of 37-2 with 36 knockouts into what will be an exciting, hotly contested 12-round showdown. The dangerous-punching Arreola, of Riverside, California, via East Los Angeles, is 27-0 with 24 KOs.
On September 26, the popular Klitschko will make history by becoming the first fighter to headline three times at Staples Center. If triumphant, Arreola will make history by becoming the first boxer of Mexican descent to capture a world heavyweight championship.
“I am really looking forward to fighting again and defending my title at Staples Center in front of so many of my fans and friends,’’ Klitschko said. “Los Angeles is my home. It is where I live with my wife and children. This is going to be a good fight. Arreola is undefeated. He will have lots of his fans there, too. So it will be a great night. But I am confident I will win.’’
Klitschko has been involved in the only two heavyweight world title fights to emanate from the internationally-known home of the NBA Champion Lakers, Staples Center.
He is 1-1, but both matches were unforgettable. The first, against then champion Lennox Lewis on June 21, 2003, was a bloody, exhilarating slugfest that resulted in a hotly disputed victory for Lewis.
The first world title fight in Los Angeles since 1958 featured numerous changes in momentum. It went into the books as a sixth-round TKO for Lewis, but Klitschko won over the fans and the media by displaying more courageousness than anyone could expect and to this day feels he could have won it.
“I will never feel like I was the loser against Lennox Lewis because I did not lose the fight,” said Klitschko, who was ahead 58-56 on the three judges’ scorecards when the ringside physician controversially stopped a remarkable fight after the sixth round because of bad cuts around the challenger’s left eye.
“I could have kept fighting. I could have beaten him. I did my best, but the doctor’s decision about the cuts stopped me. But that’s in the past. My focus now is totally on defeating Arreola and remaining the WBC champion.’’
The six-foot-seven, 38-year-old Klitschko, whose younger brother Wladimir is the IBF, WBO and IBO belt-holder, will be making his second defense in his second stint as WBC champion.
Klitschko captured the then-vacant WBC belt the first time at Staples Center on April 24, 2004, when he demolished Corrie Sanders en route to an eighth-round TKO. Shortly thereafter, Vitali was honored by then L.A. Mayor James K. Hahn, who proclaimed that April 24 would always be "Vitali Klitschko Day" in Los Angeles.
After he was sidelined by injuries for nearly four years, Klitschko regained the WBC strap with an impressive eighth-round TKO over Samuel Peter on Oct. 11, 2008. In his last start, Klitschko retained the title with a one-sided ninth-round TKO over Juan Carlos Gomez on March 21, 2009.
The 6-foot-4, 28-year-old Arreola is coming off a fourth-round knockout over longtime title contender Jameel McCline on April 11, 2009. The determined, hungry, hard-hitting Arreola’s last 15 fights have ended inside the distance: 14 by KO or TKO and one by disqualification.
Arreola, who’s called out Klitschko on many occasions, hasn’t gone the distance since September, 2005.
“I feel honored to have the opportunity to make history in my backyard in my hometown,’’ Arreola said. “It’s not just about fighting here in my hometown, it’s about hearing the cheers and getting all the congratulations and accolades after winning the title.
“Los Angeles is my hometown. I was born and raised here. Just because Klitschko has fought at Staples Center doesn’t mean a thing. He may live here, but he wasn’t born here. When Klitschko steps into the ring on Sept. 26, he’ll know whose hometown it is.
“I have waited a lifetime for this opportunity. My dream is about to come true. I can’t wait.’’
Tickets will go on sale Saturday, Aug. 15 beginning at 10 a.m. PT at all TicketMaster outlets, by phone at 800-745-3000 and online at www.ticketmaster.com
Tickets will be available at the Staples Center Box Office Monday, August 17 at 10 a.m. Tickets are priced at $500, $300, $200, $100, $75, $50 and $25.
The world title fight, which will be promoted by K2 Promotions in association with Goossen Tutor Promotions, will air Live on HBO at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT.