SAN DIEGO, September 6, 2013 – For casual boxing fans, the names they know are the great heavyweights of history. Muhammad Ali. Joe Frazier. George Foreman. Mike Tyson. Rocky Mariciano.
Today’s action is in the lower weight classes led by Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao. Part of the reason is that there is more opportunity and just as much money to be made by the bigger men in football and basketball.
This is Seth Mitchell’s story. Mitchell was a star linkbacker at Michigan State who seemed destined for NFL greatness until a knee injury killed that dream. So Mitchell took a left turn into boxing at a late age, with his first professional bout in January 2008. He has put together a record of 26-1-1, with 19 KOs. His one loss was a knockout loss to Johnathon Banks, the protégé of Emanuel Steward. Mitchell avenged that loss with a smart decision over Banks on June 22.
Mitchell, 31, is looking to get back on track and join the growing ranks of top tier heavyweight prospects with a win tonight in California in a Showtime televised event over native son Chris Arreola (35-3, 30 KOs.). Arreola is a rough, tough, entertaining brawler who would desperately love to become the first Mexican-American heavyweight champion.
Arreola, 32, toughed out a difficult loss to Bernard Stiverne in April. Arreola went the distance with a badly broken nose (shattered in four places) for most of the bout and was competitive throughout the fight. Arreola showed the kind of will and heart that wins fans even when it doesn’t win fights. It’s hard not to love a guy like Chris Arreola.
Tonight’s fight is a must for both competitors. Mitchell has many doubters who aren’t sure he’s anything more than a good football player who’s a decent but not outstanding boxer. At times he hits like a linebacker, not a boxer. His defense isn’t always sharp. Mitchell admits he started late and still has a lot to learn, but denies he turned to boxing because he couldn’t cut it in football.
Arreola has often come into fights in less than top shape, making his critics wonder if he truly has the discipline necessary to make it to the top level of boxing in the heavyweight division. Not this time. Arreola had surgery to repair his nose in May, started running six weeks later, and appears to be in the best condition in a long time. He left home to train in Phoenix, Arizona, which is a first for him. The desert heat apparently did a lot of good. Both Arreola and Mitchell weighed in at 242 pounds. This is six pounds less for Arreola that his last bout, and two pounds less for Mitchell.
Arreola can trash talk with the best, and didn’t miss an opportunity to get in Mitchell’s face at the weigh-in. “He’s going to regret he took this fight,” Arreola said. “I’m going to make him fight every minute, every second of every round. Don’t forget to bring your football helmet because you’re going to need it.” Arreola says if he loses to “some guy” like Mitchell, he will seriously contemplate retiring from the sport. “I’m a boxer and I’ve been boxing since I was seven years old.”
For fans who’ve missed the heavyweight greats of the past, Mitchell and Arreola are not Ali and Frazier or Holyfield and Tyson. But they will put on a great show with tremendous heart. A real boxing fan can’t ask for more.
In the co-main event, 38-year-old former world champion Rafael Marquez (41-8-0, 37 KOs) of Mexico will face 30-year-old Efrain Esquivias (16-2-0, 9 KOs) of California in a 10-round junior featherweight contest. Both weighed in at 126 pounds.
Mitchell vs. Arreola airs tonight on Showtime Boxing at 10 p.m. Eastern Time.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She covers the Sweet Science for Communities, along with other news in the sports world. Read Ringside Seat in Communities at Washington Times. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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