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It’s ‘make or break time’ for Cris Arreola

Cris Arreola still tells the jokes — “I want to thank Corona for building a heavyweight,” he said recently — but he’s aware the flab has lost its humor.

“It’s very important that I start showcasing my skills,” Arreola, 29, said as he wrapped up preparation for Saturday’s heavyweight bout against former world light-heavyweight and cruiserweight champion Tomasz Adamek (40-1, 27 knockouts) at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario. “I want to solidify the work of the people around me, show that [my promoter] isn’t blowing smoke. I still have a lot to prove to myself.”

Riverside’s Arreola (28-1, 25 KOs) is seven months removed from his one-sided loss to world heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko at Staples Center, when Arreola’s trainer Henry Ramirez threw in the towel after 10 rounds.

Arreola has since confessed that he started training for that bout at 295 pounds, and Ramirez has scolded his fighter for disappearing during past training camps.

“When I disappear, I stay at home and play video games,” Arreola said, denying that he’s used the down time to drink beer and eat fatty foods. But he had a taste of a heavyweight title opportunity, and now says he aches for another.

“Once I lost to Klitschko, I realized it’s make-or-break time for me,” Arreola said. “My first question to [promoter] Dan [Goossen] after I lost was, ‘When can I fight again?’ I hate losing. I don’t want to be labeled a loser.”

Arreola retained a new conditioning trainer, Darryl Hudson, who formerly worked with Shane Mosley and consults Winky Wright and super-middleweight Andre Dirrell.

“Cris’ transformation is a process, mentally and physically, getting him to understand it takes a new lifestyle to become a world champion,” Hudson said. “He sees progress now, and it spurs him to do better.”

Hudson says Arreola will call him from a restaurant and ask, “Is this OK to eat?” They have spent weeks running up and down college stadium stairs, along the track, throwing medicine balls.

Still, for all that training Arreola weighed in this week at 250 1/2 pounds for the Adamek fight, only half a pound lighter than for the Klitschko bout.

“He knows he’s got to show he’s not just a come-forward, hit-me-in-the-chin kind of guy. You’ll see a quicker, lighter, more nimble Cris Arreola,” Hudson said.

Nimble? A description for Cris Arreola?

Now that’s funny.

lance.pugmire@latimes.com


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