By Keith Idec
Chris Arreola continued to talk trash to Seth Mitchell on Wednesday, even after the final news conference prior to their 12-round fight Saturday night in Indio, Calif.
As they stood face to face for the traditional staredown, Arreola repeatedly told Mitchell, “I’m going to f*** you up.” He punctuated his verbal barrage with, “Bring your football helmet,” a reference to the mild-mannered Mitchell’s days as a linebacker for Michigan State.
Arreola’s crack drew laughter from onlookers, but the hard-hitting heavyweight from Riverside, Calif., knows just how serious he has had to take his fight against Mitchell (26-1-1, 19 KOs), of Brandywine, Md. Though favored to win, the 32-year-old Arreola (35-3, 30 KOs) is coming off a 12-round unanimous decision defeat to Haiti’s Bermane Stiverne on April 27 in Ontario, Calif.
Stiverne (23-1-1, 20 KOs) dropped Arreola in the third round of that fight and broke Arreola’s nose. A loss to the 31-year-old Mitchell, who has an unreliable chin and no amateur boxing background, in a fight that’ll be broadcast by Showtime (10:30 p.m. ET/PT) would be a much greater setback than his loss to Stiverne.
“This is a must-win fight,” Arreola said. “I respect his conditioning and his determination to be somebody. Mitchell was a good football player, but I’ve been in this game too long to lose to somebody like that. If I lose to some guy like Seth Mitchell I would seriously contemplate retirement.
“I’m not a gatekeeper and never want to be that guy you beat so my name looks good on your resume. I’m not that kind of a fighter. I’m a world-class athlete, a world-class boxer.”
Arreola hasn’t always trained like a world-class athlete, but it wasn’t until he lost to Stiverne that he made a significant change to the way he prepares. He went away to Phoenix to train for six weeks and appeared slimmer than usual Wednesday.
“It took me until I was 32, but I’ve finally grown up a little,” Arreola said. “For once, I’m doing what it takes to give myself the best chance to win. I’ve always been my own worst enemy, but this time it’s not like that. I’ve got to make sure I walk the walk, and that everything I say I’m going to do happens.
“I’ve always been my own biggest problem, my own worst enemy. I can’t blame anybody else. I work my butt off once I’m in the gym, but getting to the gym wasn’t always automatic. I’d always come up with excuses for not going. Out in Phoenix, we only had one car and [trainer] Henry [Ramirez] did all the driving. He also had the only key. So relocating paid off. I put in the time. I did my training camp the way I always was supposed to be doing it. All I did was concentrate on boxing.”
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.