Thursday’s press conference saw fireworks between Chris Arreola and Travis Kauffman when heated words turned into pushing and shoving. Friday’s weigh-in wasn’t as explosive, but Arreola wasn’t going to just let bygones be bygones.
As the two heavyweights—both weighing in at 236.5—stood eye to eye, Arreola grabbed at Kauffman’s belly and hollered, “He’s got nothing!”
“The reason I pushed him was because his lip touched my nose," Arreola said. "I ain’t gonna lie, when his lip touched my nose, I was like ‘Ew, that’s gross.’ But when it’s all said and done I know the guy. I respect him. That’s the reason I went to [Big Bear Lake, California, for training camp]. I went there to get ready for him. It wasn’t fat camp. It was nothing like that.”
Kauffman has been pushing the angle that Arreola was more focused on losing weight than he was preparing for their fight. He stuck to that narrative Friday, and insisted that nothing Arreola did got to him.
“I think he trains for this fight just to lose weight, which is a bad thing for him,” Kauffman said. “People are so used to seeing him being a fat, out of shape guy. It's not because he's in shape. It's because he worked so hard to lose the weight, which is the difference. He’s just very immature.
"As a professional, that’s something you don’t do. It’s why he treats the sport, treats his body and everything else like shit. He doesn’t respect what we do as athletes.
"He looks good, but looks don’t mean everything. He’s an ugly guy. Very ugly. He’s just trying to get under my skin, talking about a loose belly. I’ve been 310 pounds before. We're not in a beauty contest. I don't have six-pack abs. I'm not built like a Greek god. I like to think I am, but I'm not.”
After 11 years, Wladimir Klitschko is no longer a heavyweight champion, and the long shadow he cast over the division is, even if only temporarily, gone. Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury now stand atop the division, but there’s a sense that now, more than at any time since the heady days after Lennox Lewis’ retirement, anything can happen.
Chris Arreola and Travis Kauffman are both trying to climb into that conversation when the two heavyweights meet Saturday at the AT&T Center in San Antonio (NBC, 8:30 p.m. ET/5:30 p.m. PT).
Arreola says it's been a productive camp, and he's fighting at his lightest weight since 2011. It’s also a big difference from his last two fights, when he came in at 246.8 for Fred Kassi in July and 262 for Curtis Harper in March.
"It's never been about weight for me,” Arreola said. “I just want to make sure I'm in the best boxing shape I can be.”
Arreola stands as the toughest opponent Kauffman has had in his career, and he knows a win would help put him on the map. That’s not anything that’s lost on Arreola either, who’s determined not to let someone else get healthy off his name.
“Travis Kauffman is very hungry, and he wants to take me as a steppingstone,” Arreola said. “But that's not going to happen.”
For complete coverage of Arreola vs Kauffman, make sure to check out our fight page.