Things do change in boxing, sometimes dramatically.
It was September of 2013, and Riverside heavyweight Chris Arreola had just knocked out Seth Mitchell in the first round at Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio.
Afterward, he talked of another title shot and of avenging previous losses, and someone — perhaps your intrepid correspondent — mentioned up-and-coming Alabama heavyweight Deontay Wilder.
“No disrespect to Deontay Wilder, but he’s not someone I’m looking at,” Arreola said then. “He’s got a long line to wait on, and he’s got to prove himself a little more. But I respect him because of his amateur career.”
Wilder, obviously, has jumped the line.
And Arreola’s not only looking at him but looking up at him. When they fight July 16 in Birmingham, Ala., a matchup that was officially announced Monday, Wilder will have the championship belt that Arreola wants.
Wilder, now 30, is undefeated as a professional with 35 knockouts in 36 fights. The one fight that went the distance was in January 2015, when he defeated Bermane Stiverne to win the WBC heavyweight championship.
Stiverne, you may recall, won that then-vacant title with a sixth-round TKO of Arreola in May of 2014 at USC’s Galen Center.
This fight came about because Wilder’s originally planned title defense against Russia’s Alexander Povetkin, scheduled May 21 in Moscow, was scrubbed when Povetkin tested positive for meldonium.
(No truth to the rumor, incidentally, that in Russia meldonium is marketed as “the breakfast of champions.” Though sometimes it’s hard to tell, given the number of Russian athletes who have tested positive for it.)
This will be Arreola’s third title shot, following losses to Stiverne in 2014 and Vitali Klitschko in 2009 during an entertaining journey of a career that has had a lot of highs and lows.
And no, that’s not a pun directed at the result of Arreola’s most recent fight. He won a split decision over Travis Kauffman in San Antonio last December, but the decision …