by David P. Greisman
Seth Mitchell and his team already knew that former heavyweight title challenger Chris Arreola didn’t respect him.
Arreola had said as much. For example, there was what he had said about Mitchell in January:
“It’s like me trying to go try out for the NFL,” Arreola told ESNewsReporting.com, a reference to Mitchell’s past as a college football player and the fact that Mitchell was 25 years old when he became a pro boxer. “You know, Just because I’m a big guy, I think I’ma be able to play in the NFL. That’s not the case. It’s two different sports. And I kind of feel a little slighted by someone like him that thinks that boxing is so easy, that’s going to come and just be a heavyweight champion. He’s not. He didn’t pay his dues, you know. He wouldn’t last with someone like a [Malik] Scott or a [Bryant] Jennings or myself, especially.”
Arreola said he would fight Mitchell, “without a question in my mind,” and promised to do worse to him than Johnathon Banks had in November 2012.
Arreola just might get his chance. According to Mitchell’s manager, Sharif Salim, that fight is in negotiations, possibly for early September.
Salim mentioned Arreola’s comments early on in an interview with BoxingScene.com conducted July 17.
“I know Chris Arreola has been, in a rather cruel and capricious way, saying things that are not very nice about Seth Mitchell,” Salim said. “And that’s been going on for a couple of years. Of course we’re going to always maintain our dignity and let our gloves do the talking. We are looking forward to fighting Chris Arreola with unlimited enthusiasm.”
Salim had more to say about the bout and about Mitchell, who is now 31 and is coming off a unanimous decision win over Banks in their June rematch. Mitchell is 26-1-1 with 19 knockouts.
BoxingScene.com: Why are you in favor of Seth facing Chris Arreola?
Salim: “When it was presented to us, we said that this is a good fight for Seth. We always felt that we could beat him. We know that even though he lost his last fight to [Bermane] Stiverne, he’s quite a capable opponent. Very dangerous. He is indeed an entertaining fighter. I look at Seth’s fight [with Banks], which we had to fight a more strategic fight, pumping that jab, watching our distance, all those type of things, because the overall objective there was simply to get a ‘W.’ Every fight Seth has been in, be it one round, two or three, has been exciting. This [the Banks fight] was a strategic fight, and we’re OK with that.
“But we want to bring back again that wonderful arsenal that Seth has, as well as that turbulence, that excitement that he brings when he fights. We believe a fight with two guys will be coming at each other will be, for however long it lasts, something that the public will give two thumbs up on.”
BoxingScene.com: Is that how you’d want Seth to fight Arreola, coming at him, or would you want him to also include angles as well?
Salim: “Oh, there’s no question. When I say that, I say that loosely. We consider Seth to be a boxer-puncher. He has a good jab, and he has good, quick feet. He can move. We know how Mr. Arreola comes. I mean, it’s pretty much a one-way street. We will use our boxing skills. But when I say ‘come at each other,’ you can expect some times when both will be throwing some power shots, some real leveraged punches. And I expect that to happen more often than not in such an engagement with two guys, maybe not of the same physique, but of similar weight and height.”
BoxingScene.com: Seth worked behind the jab in the rematch with Banks. How important would the jab be for a fight with Arreola?
Salim: “Every fight. Every fight for Seth Mitchell, the jab is first and foremost. Every fight. You can count how many jabs he throws a round, which is often times more than a lightweight throws. So we will always be behind our jab. From day 1, it was a natural punch for him, like a left hook was natural for Joe Frazier. Seth has a beautiful jab, and he has several jabs. I can assure you such a fight, and as you know styles make fights, there will be a lot of engagement.”
BoxingScene.com: I understand Seth’s back in camp. Have you brought in specific sparring partners yet to help him prepare for Chris Arreola?
Salim: “No, we have not yet. We haven’t really made that list yet, but they will soon be arriving. We will have a camp this time at our gym, the Dream Team gym. It’s worked for us before, so we certainly expect for it to work again. We’ll continue to work on the various things that we really worked and embedded into Seth’s head for this last victory. There’s a lot of things that we still will work on, for Seth to continue to grow as a fighter and become a better fighter.”
BoxingScene.com: Such as what?
Salim: “Seth always needs to work on angles. Seth needs to continue to work on spacing and distance. Pacing as well. Seth needs to work a little more on when you’re inside, shifting from one side to another, step backs, things like that.”
BoxingScene.com: You alluded to Arreola’s trash talk about Seth and the attention he has received from the boxing world. What do you think about what he said?
Salim: “I think it’s the culture of boxing, where you have a lot of braggadocio, you have a lot of people who are in for the putdowns. We kind of accept it. We don’t internalize it. Nor do we put much credence in it. We know guys shoot from the hip, and they say things that are not polite. It’s a warrior society, man. We’re talking gladiators here. We let it fly. We just happen not to do it. I tell my fighters, we ought to be respectful. I’m not saying gentlemen, per se, but we’re going to be sportsmen. Our talking happens in the ring.
“Believe me, no one’s offended, but we hope that guys know that when that bell rings, what has been said has been chronicled and recorded, and now you’re on the spot and you got to back it up. We’re not going to give him any more motivation, and at the same time, we’re not going to be out of character.”
BoxingScene.com: If Seth wins against Arreola and looks good, where does that put him for the next step in his career? I know in the past the talk has been about facing a Klitschko in 2013.
Salim: “The next step is still seeking the world championship. We’re talking about a guy [Mitchell] who has beaten some names. He’s beaten [Timur] Ibragimov, who’s never been stopped, and he stopped him. He’s beaten Chazz Witherspoon, an extremely respectful fighter with a respectful record. We got our redemption fight: We beat Johnathon Banks, the first time he’s ever been beaten in a heavyweight fight. He’s an extremely talented fighter.
“We have beaten guys, and we have earned our No. 2 WBC, No. 4 WBA, and [No. 8 as of July 17] WBO. We’ve earned straps. Minor straps, but you know, WBC International and NABO. I think that’s enough, and more many that have gotten championship cracks at the Klitschkos. I think we certainly would be in line for that. I think a win over Chris Arreola would be just yet another name that we have beaten. And I think that would be a fight that we would train for, work hard for, and who knows, Seth Mitchell always will have a puncher’s chance.”
David P. Greisman is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Follow David on Twitter @fightingwords2 or send questions/comments via email at [email protected]