- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
- 0 Shares
Heavyweight contender Cristobal Arreola, looking to rebound from an upset loss and get back into a major fight, will face fellow Mexican-American and Southern California native Manuel Quezada on Aug. 13, promoter Dan Goossen told ESPN.com on Tuesday.
Arreola and Quezada square off at the Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, Calif., in the main event of ESPN2's "Friday Night Fights."
That is the same arena where Arreola (28-2, 25 KOs), from nearby Riverside, was upset in April by former cruiserweight champ Tomasz Adamek, the much smaller man who won a majority decision.
Quezada (29-5, 18 KOs), 32, of Wasco, Calif., is also coming off an unexpected loss, making the fight more of a must-win situation for both fighters.
Quezada, who had been steadily moving up the sanctioning organization rankings, dropped a surprising split decision to journeyman Jason Gavern on April 8 in Lemoore, Calif. The defeat ended Quezada's 18-fight winning streak dating to 2006, when he lost a decision in a four-rounder
"This fight is an opportunity for Cris to jump back into the thick of things with a win," Goossen said. "And this is something Quezada has been asking for for quite awhile. He's been asking to fight Cris. He feels like he's taken a backseat to Cris and he thinks he's just as interesting and aggressive and exciting as Cris is in the ring. I know that Cris has never had any problem fighting Manny, but it never worked out that way the last few years. Now, obviously, here it is. They're both coming off very disappointing losses and they need to win this one."
The fight may also be a reality check for Arreola, who is coming to ESPN2 after having his last five fights and six of his last seven on the far-more lucrative HBO platform. Even after Vitali Klitschko battered him until his corner threw in the towel in the 10th round of a September 2009 title opportunity, Arreola was back on HBO. He knocked out overmatched Brian Minto in the fourth round in December, but then was upset by Adamek in a disappointing performance.
Arreola, 29, came into the fight in less-than-ideal condition after what trainer Henry Ramirez said was by far his worst training camp, one during which Arreola skipped numerous scheduled training sessions.
"Cris has to perform and also this is Manny's big shot," Ramirez said. "You've got two guys whose backs are against the wall, my guy and Manny. Whoever loses is basically done. But I'm hoping Cris knows his back is against the wall. Manny is a tough guy. I like Manny a lot and I respect him a lot. I know him well. He's a good friend of mine. But Cris has been in the gym and sparring for about a week.
"I think Cris knows the only way to get back to those paydays he had and to get back into the limelight is for him to take the fight seriously and to pull his head out of his ass. Is it pulled out yet? Little by little it's coming out. For this fight he hasn't missed any workouts -- yet. But I know Cris. Let's see if he can take this seriously."
Goossen promotes Arreola and Quezada and hopes they put on a show.
"Our conversations with HBO, as it relates to the heavyweight division, is if you're not out there giving 100 percent and showing that aggressive style and the ability to draw fans and ratings, that it's a hard road back to HBO, and Cris knows that," Goossen said. "I believe the winner of this fight comes right into a fight with Adamek, either a rematch for Cris or a shot for Manny. Cris would love to have that rematch and Manny would love to pull the upset on Aug. 13 and jump into Cris' shoes.
"I think Aug. 13 is a springboard to having one of the fighters come out and say, 'I'm ready to take on everybody and to do it in tip-top shape.' "
Quezada's most notable victory came last July, when he scored a first-round knockout of Travis Walker. When Walker faced Arreola in 2008, Walked scored a knockdown in the second round before Arreola rallied to knock him out in the third round.
Dan Rafael covers boxing for ESPN.com.
2hMarc Stein and Tim MacMahon
10hMarc Stein and Calvin Watkins