By Cliff Rold
They can’t all be champions.
Even in this watered down era of beltholders and interim beltholders, some guys never get a strap. It might be by way of management’s course or timing. It might also be the thickness at the top.
In the confines of the Heavyweight division, that means Klitschko with a side of Povetkin. It’s not an easy ceiling to bust through.
Chris Arreola had a shot at Vitali Klitschko a few years ago and while he showed guts there was little hope of victory from early on. Seth Mitchell, buzzed bad in each of his last three fights and stopped in the first of two with Jonathan Banks, doesn’t look like any sort of threat to the stop of the class.
What Heavyweight has missed more than anything during a largely down period is awesome scraps. We’ve been getting more lately. Steve Cunningham lost his last two fights moving up from Cruiserweight, but his rematch with Tomasz Adamek and scrap with Tyson Fury were both fun. Povetkin-Marco Huck was both controversial and thrilling. Both Tony Thompson-David Price fights were memorable.
This Saturday, for as long as it lasts, could be an awesome scrap or at least a memorable one. It’s unlikely the winner will exit with any chance of beating a Klitschko. We’ll make do with being entertained.
Let’s go to the report card.
Title/Previous Titles: None
Weight: 242 lbs.
Average Weight – Last Five Fights: 240.9 lbs.
Hails from: Los Angeles, California
Record: 35-3, 30 KO, 1 KOBY
Rankings: #10 (ESPN)
Record in Major Title Fights: 0-1, 1 KOBY
Current/Former World Champions Faced: 2 (Vitali Klitschko TKO by 10; Tomasz Adamek L12)
Title/Previous Titles: None
Weight: 242 lbs.
Average Weight – Last Five Fights: 241.95 lbs.
Hails from: Brandywine, Maryland
Record: 26-1-1, 19 KO, 1 KOBY
Rankings: #9 (BoxRec)
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced: 0
Pre-Fight: Speed – Arreola B-; Mitchell B
Pre-Fight: Power – Arreola B+; Mitchell B
Pre-Fight: Defense – Arreola C-; Mitchell D+
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Arreola B; Mitchell C
Both men enter the bout with questions marks after recent form. Mitchell’s questions marks are bigger. He was rocked badly but survived in a bout with Chazz Witherspoon and the second bout with Jonathan Banks. He was stopped period the first time through with Banks.
What happened in the rematch to change the outcome?
The most obvious thing people saw was Banks quit throwing punches after early success in the bout. Less obvious was what Mitchell did to encourage his backwards steps. Mitchell appeared to land some big stuff after being hurt that caught Banks’ attention and froze him up. Later reports also indicate hand issues for Banks but his reaction to being stunned said something about the outcome.
At some point, Banks fought like the man more afraid of being stopped than Mitchell. It spoke to Mitchell’s character fighting through adversity in all three fights and not giving up on himself. It also spoke to something obvious: Mitchell can crack.
It did not speak to a beard suited for the upper echelons of big men.
For all the chatter about what’s wrong at Heavyweight, one still needs a chin, especially without a deep technical background in the sport.
Arreola, though flawed, has that solid background. He appears to be in better shape for this fight relative to the Arreola scale of preparedness. In shape, his technical qualities are sharper.
One of the things that remains appealing about him is his ability to throw combinations in a time when too many Heavyweights seemingly rest on orthodox one-two boxing. And Arreola has shown a better chin. Yes, he’s been hurt, but he recovers well and his lone stoppage loss was a beating at the hands of Klitschko.
While deeper in background, Arreola still struggles sometimes with balance and an awkward right hand. He makes up for it with a left hook that can hurt anyone if it lands right and he’s a decent finisher. If he gets Mitchell in trouble, he can get him out of there.
Can Mitchell box enough to keep Arreola at bay? Berman Stiverne, who dropped and defeated Arreola in his last outing, boxed well and didn’t engage recklessly. If Mitchell can tuck his chin, jab, and select his spots, he can win rounds.
One guy appears to have questionable whiskers. The other has had questionable professionalism and a level of attention far outstripping a career that has gone on about a decade without a single win of any real note. Mitchell appears the fare Arreola typically feasts on. There's no reason to consider either guy a serious contender regardless of outcome, but it might make for a fun short fight before Arreola lowers the boom. Look for Arreola to score the knockout anytime between the second and fourth rounds.
Report Card Picks 2013: 34-20
Overseas, the fight of the day may take place well before the big men take the ring. Ricky Burns (36-2, 11 KO) defends the WBO Lightweight belt in what could be a tough one. Raymundo Beltran (28-6, 17 KO) is a hard luck veteran who has seen some close ones go against him. In what should be a competitive fight, heartbreak could be the order of the day and the raucous Scottish crowd will make it hard on the judges to ignore what Burns does right. In a nailbiter, the edge goes to the home team. Look for a close, maybe controversial, decision win for Burns.
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene and a member of the Transanational Boxing Ratings Board, the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel, and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]