By Jake Donovan
Chazz Witherspoon is living proof that it’s never too late to teach an old dog new tricks.
There were several firsts surrounding the Philly heavyweight heading into his HBO-televised co-feature with Chris Arreola in June ’08. Both fighters were unbeaten and fighting on HBO for the first time.
The night went miserably awry for Witherspoon, who was battered and beaten prior to getting dropped hard twice, including one at the end of the third round. He was spared a knockout loss only because his corner entered the ring while the referee continued with his count, resulting in a DQ loss, similar to what recently played out last month in Carlos Molina’s loss to James Kirkland.
The major difference in the fights was that Witherspoon never stood a chance on this particular night. He has since won seven of eight, with the only loss coming against Tony Thompson in Dec. ’09.
Still, it wasn’t until Witherspoon (30-2, 22KO) received a shot at unbeaten Seth Mitchell (24-0-1, 18KO) when he decided to make drastic changes in his career. The two American heavyweights collide on April 28 in an HBO-televised co-feature live from Atlantic City.
The fight takes place about an hour and change from Witherspoon’s hometown of Paulsboro, NJ, on the outskirts of Philadelphia. Yet home court advantage will only play out on fight night (if at all). Witherspoon taken to the road for what could possibly serve as his last chance at being regarded as a legitimate heavyweight force.
“Lots for firsts for me heading into this fight,” Witherspoon notes.
It was revealed during a recent conference call that the 30-year old – whose second cousin is former heavyweight titlist Tim Witherspoon – is actually in a training camp for the first time in his career.
Preparation for the bulk of his 32 pro fights to date has been kept close to him. This time around, Witherspoon saw fit to bring in additional ammunition, as he is now working with 2011 Trainer of the Year Virgil Hunter, best known for his work with super middleweight king Andre Ward.
“The way I look at it is, people have yet to see me at my best,” Witherspoon insists. “Everything came together out of nowhere. I was a blessing how I got together with Virgil and I got to get away to go to camp. I plan on going out there and give a good performance.”
Another prominent figure accompanies Witherspoon in this latest journey, as his new management team is headed by former heavyweight titlist Ken Norton Sr. Though boxing is their bond, it was another medium that led to such a union.
“My uncle, my dad’s brother, is the lead singer for Cameo, Larry Blackmon,” Witherspoon reveals. “He told me he had some buddies who did some stuff with music and with Hollywood and that one of them mentioned that I should get together with Ken Norton, who runs Jawbreaker Management.
“We talked and it all came together pretty fast. I’ve never been in camp before, so all of these opportunities came together at the same time. [It’s my] first fight with Ken Norton, first fight with Virgil, first fight in a camp.”
The only remaining first for Witherspoon is to come out on a top in a fight with title fight implications. Whatever the result, the St. Joseph’s-educated heavyweight will make certain that his presence is felt.
“Everyone who knows me, knows that I come to fight. I’m a man’s man; I don’t fear any man.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter: @JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments to JakeNDaBox@gmail.com