WAIL! | The CBZ Journal | February 2004

Interview with Harry Arroyo

By Jim Amato

During the mid-1980s, Youngstown's Harry Arroyo established himself as one of boxing's most popular fighters on television. His stirring battles with "Choo Choo" Brown, "White Lightning" Brown and Terrence Alli made him a household favorite. A potential matchup with cross-town rival Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini loomed in the future, but it wasn't meant to be. Harry lost his title to clever Kronkster Jimmy Paul. Subsequent losses to then unknown Sammy Fuentes and future champions Vinny Pazienza and Loreto Garcia forced Harry out of the limelight. He then became a steppingstone for young boxers such as Carl Griffith.

Today Harry is happy and healthy and enjoying his retirement. The following is an interview with the former world lightweight titleholder.

WAIL: How did you get started in boxing?
ARROYO: I was 13 and I got into a street fight. After the fight, the kid asked me if I boxed and if I wanted to go to a boxing gym.

Did you win any major amateur titles?
As an amateur I fought for nine years. I won several Golden Gloves tournaments and eight AAU Regional tournaments. I also competed in the 1980 Olympic trials.

What were your amateur and professional records?
As an amateur my record was 110 wins and 15 losses. As a pro, I ended with 40 wins and 11 losses.

In your professional career, do you feel your win over Robin Blake was your turning point?
Sure! Robin Blake was a well-known upcoming fighter, and I was more or less the underdog. So when I beat Mr. Blake on national TV, the world saw me.

How did you feel after stopping "Choo Choo" Brown to win the IBF lightweight title?
When I beat "Choo Choo" Brown, I was on top of the world and I felt my life was about to change.

In your first defense you rather easily defeated Charlie "White Lightning" Brown. Do you feel he was a worthy challenges?
At that time "White Lightning" was an upcoming star. I felt he was very worthy.

In your next defense you came from behind to stop the talented Terrence Alli. At any point in the fight, did you feel in danger of losing your crown?
Once! I think it was the seventh round. I got hit with an uppercut and got cut above the chin. I thought I was in trouble.

After your victory over Alli, your popularity was at its height. How did it feel to see your picture on the cover of several prominent boxing magazines?
It didn't seem real, because I never saw myself as anything special. So to see myself in a magazine was unbelievable.

Although you finished on your feet, you lost your title to Jimmy Paul and looked sluggish. Was this the beginning of eroding skills or was Jimmy Paul that good?
Jimmy Paul was a good fighter, not a great fighter. There are some styles of fighters that are made to lose to another fighter. Jimmy Paul's style was made to beat me. I think if I fought him 10 times Jimmy would win 10 times‹not because he's a better fighter, but because of the style.

In your opinion, why didn't you and your cross-town rival Ray Mancini ever meet in the ring as professionals?
The offer was made, I accepted, and Ray turned it down. You will have to ask him.

If you and Ray would have met when you were both champions, what would the outcome have been?
I believe I would have won, because Ray is short and he took a lot of punches. The only reason he won a lot of fights was because he wore down his opposition and stopped them. Ray was always in great shape.

Do you bear any resentment toward Ray today, or is it just water under the bridge?
It's mainly water under the bridge. I honestly believe that in Ray's heart, he knew who the better fighter was, and I believe that's why he never gave me a shot at him.

Do you feel that you get the recognition that a former world champion deserves?
I really don't know, because as a person, I never felt any different.

What is Harry Arroyo doing these days?
Harry is living a happy and comfortable life. He has five kids and a beautiful wife. He's gotten spiritual.

Thank you so much, and God bless!

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