- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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Heavyweight contender Cristobal Arreola, who suffered a badly broken nose in his loss to Bermane Stiverne last month, underwent surgery on Friday and had stents removed from the nose on Monday, promoter Dan Goossen told ESPN.com.
"He is breathing a lot better now and recovering," Goossen said Tuesday.
Arreola, 32, of Riverside, Calif., and Haiti native Stiverne, 34, met on April 27 in Ontario, Calif., in a title elimination fight for the right to become the mandatory challenger to titleholder Vitali Klitschko (45-2, 41 KOs).
Stiverne (23-1-1, 20 KOs) caught Arreola with a booming right hand on the nose as the third round was coming to an end. Arreola (35-3, 30 KOs), with blood pouring from his nose, went down to the canvas. Although he survived the knockdown, he was not the same for the rest of the fight. His breathing was seriously impaired and he lost a unanimous decision on scores of 118-109, 117-110 and 117-110.
"He had multiple breaks, so it was not a 1-2-3 procedure," Goossen said. "On the other hand, the operation took care of the problem. When you really get down to it, it is amazing that not only could he withstand the pain but the bigger problem of not being able to breathe.
"I've seen fighters fight with one hand, I've seen fighters with blood gushing from their mouth and fighters fighting with bad knees or bad ankles, but when you take away a fighter's breathing ability you're really taking away his weapons."
Arreola said he can begin training on Monday, but can't have any contact for about six weeks. Goossen said Arreola would likely fight again in four to five months.
"I never want to break my nose again. This is my second time breaking my nose and I never want to do it again," Arreola said. "This loss gave me a nasty taste in my mouth."
Arreola said he looked forward to fighting his back into a significant fight.
"If I become a gatekeeper I would retire. I don't want to be a gatekeeper. I don't want to be the guy that these other guys have to beat to get a shot," he said. "My last fight, I got to give it to Stiverne. He broke my nose and every punch after that was the most excruciating punch I have taken in my life. It was hard to breathe. I'm usually a risk-taker in the ring. I'll come in and give it my all and come straight forward. I'm a slugger. But it was hard to take a risk because every punch was excruciating because of my nose."
Arreola admitted that he thought about quitting during the fight but trainer Henry Ramirez and the rest of his corner kept him going.
"I believe it was like round six or round seven," Arreola said. "They willed me to keep going for a couple of rounds because the pain was unbearable. It was so painful after those two rounds, I told Henry. But after those two rounds, I was fine. I was like, 'Let's go, let's do it.' There's no quit in me."
Said Goossen, "Chris accepts the loss and just wants to get back in there and get back to the top. He's fairly simple that way. He doesn't want to blame anything, doesn't want to blame his nose or his inability to breathe but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that it was a problem.
"If you can't breathe and you still move forward as aggressively as he did, it just goes to show you the heart and willpower that he's got to overcome all obstacles."
1dDarren Rovell and Dan Rafael