USC lands Stiverne-Arreola rematch

Updated: March 24, 2014, 3:00 PM ET
By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com

The heavyweight title bout between Bermane Stiverne and Chris Arreola will take place May 10 at the Galen Center on the campus of USC and air live on ESPN, promoters Dan Goossen and Don King announced Monday.

The fight was agreed to a couple of months ago but the site, date and television deal had to be finalized before it could be formally announced.

Bermane Stiverne, Cristobal Arreola
Joe Miranda/Goossen Tutor PromotionsThe winner between Bermane Stiverne and Chris Arreola will fill the title that Vitali Klitschko vacated in December in order to focus on his political career.

Stiverne and Arreola will be fighting to fill the title that Vitali Klitschko vacated in December in order to focus on his political career in his native Ukraine.

"Vitali was a great champion in and out of the ring, and the winner of this fight will have big shoes to fill," said Goossen, Arreola's promoter. "Chris will definitely be going into this fight with his back against the wall. It's that type of do-or-die situation, I believe, when he's the most motivated and dangerous. To top off this history making, and what is sure to be great event, is ESPN's participation, the home to all major sporting events, putting additional broadcast significance to this heavyweight world championship fight."

The fight, which will air in prime time beginning at 8 p.m. ET, is a rematch of Stiverne's unanimous decision victory last April. When they met in a title elimination fight in Ontario, Calif., Stiverne knocked Arreola down and broke his nose in the third round and went on to win 118-109, 117-110 and 117-110.

Stiverne (23-1, 20 KOs), 35, a native of Haiti living in Miami, was then due to get a mandatory shot against Klitschko. But after a purse bid for the fight was put off multiple times, Klitschko eventually retired, leaving Stiverne to face the next available lead contender -- Arreola (36-3, 31 KOs), 33, of Riverside, Calif., who had rebounded from the loss to knock out Seth Mitchell in the first round in September.

"The only thing I'm thinking about right now is putting my hands on that title," Stiverne said. "As a matter of fact, to me, I'm going to the ring like I'm defending my title. This title is mine. It's my title, you know what I'm saying? They just didn't give it to me yet. I'm going in there to defend my title. 

"I feel like I'm ready already. I feel great. I can't wait to make history, so everybody look out for that fight. It's gonna be a fantastic performance and a lot of pain and a knockout."

Said Don House, Stiverne's trainer: "I've evaluated this fight and we have been going at this like Bermane hasn't fought Arreola before, as if everything is brand new. Can Arreola bring anything into this fight differently? No. He may come to fight in the best shape of his life but he doesn't have the skills to beat Bermane. He doesn't have the power or speed that Bermane does. Arreola will be right there. Bermane won't have to look for him, and Bermane will be ready to fight 12 rounds."

Arreola will be getting his second shot at a world title and also is bidding to become the first heavyweight titleholder of Mexican descent. He challenged Klitschko for the belt in 2009 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles and suffered a 10th-round knockout loss when his corner threw in the towel to end the one-sided bout.

"I'm very excited about fighting for the WBC title once again," Arreola said. "I have a great opportunity to get my revenge against Stiverne and make history in one night and I plan to deliver."

Added Henry Ramirez, Arreola's trainer: "Not too many times do you get a chance to right a wrong, and on May 10 Chris will have his chance to do just that with everything on the line. I know we have a tough task, but I have zero doubt Chris Arreola will be the WBC world heavyweight champion and first ever of Mexican descent to hold such title."

Although ESPN has televised boxing throughout its 35-year history, the bout marks the network's entrance into live boxing at the top level of the sport.

"ESPN has a long history of carrying world-class boxing events, but this certainly ranks up there with the best that we've televised," said Brian Kweder, ESPN senior director of programming and acquisitions. "Dan Goossen and Don King deserve credit for having the vision to distribute this potentially historical match to as many households as possible and we are thrilled to be televising the fight."

The Galen Center will be hosting a boxing event for the first time. Goossen had lined up the arena as a venue for a fight in January 2013 between super middleweight champion Andre Ward and former middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik. However, the fight was canceled after Ward injured his shoulder and Pavlik later retired.

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