On a scale of 1-to-10, Seth Mitchell emphatically predicted that there is a “zero chance” of Chris Arreola trying to win a boxing match as opposed to charging forward, forcing the action and attempting to more or less take his head off when they meet on Saturday night at Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, Calif., on Showtime.
“Zero chance he comes out and tries to box. He won’t win that fight. He can’t win that fight,” said Mitchell, 31, of his 32-year-old rival. “But I’m prepared for it. We’re working on different game plans and I’m confident. I don’t talk a lot and I don’t put a lot of bulletin board material out there.”
Mitchell (26-1-1, 19 knockouts) is coming off a unanimous decision over Johnathon Banks in June that avenged a second-round stoppage loss last November, and Arreola (35-3, 30 KOs) had surgery in May to repair a broken nose suffered during his unanimous-decision loss to Bermane Stiverne in April.
“This is a fight that I foresaw happening, and at the time, it would have had more steam,” said Mitchell, during an open workout last week at The Dream Team Boxing Club in Clinton, MD., near his home town of Brandywine. “He hadn’t lost to Stiverne, and I hadn’t lost to Johnathan Banks. So we now have it coming on Sept. 7, and it’s a fight that I had been talking about among my team members, and I think that our styles mesh well, we compliment each other, and it’s going to be a great fight.
“I’m confident that we’re going to win. Him and his trainer, they’ve been talking a lot of noise, a lot of noise, and they’re going to have to back it up on Sept. 7. But it’s going to be him and I. I know that it’s his home town, and I know that the odds are stacked against me, and all of that, but that doesn’t matter to me. I’m prepared and focused, and on Sept. 7, it’s going to be him and I in the ring, and they’re going to have to back up all of that trash that they’re talking.”
Meanwhile, Arreola said he has recovered from his injury and appears to be as focused as Mitchell.
“My nose hasn’t given me any problems, and it is fine. I‘ve got such a big nose. I broke it in four different places. He hit me with that right hand and just shattered it. I had surgery on May 10, and was able to start running again six weeks after that. This is a must-win fight. I respect his conditioning and his determination to be somebody,” said Arreola, who was stopped in the 10th round by WBC beltholder Vitali Klitschko in 2009.
“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 I never want 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. If there is one word that describes me for this fight that word is ‘motivated.’ I’m motivated, much more than in the past.”
Mitchell knows that he is the underdog heading into the fight, as evidenced by Stiverne’s pick when asked by RingTV.com whom he thought would win Mitchell-Arreola.
“Personally, I would have to go with Arreola to beat Mitchell. I think that Arreola has too much experience for him,” said Stiverne. “I think Arreola’s going to stop him. I don’t see it going more than 10 rounds.”
Arreola agrees, although he said he is prepared to go the distance if need be.
“I’m motivated to beat this guy, to put him on his butt and in his place. There’s no way this man should beat me. The main thing is, I cannot give Mitchell any opportunity to win this fight at all. It’s all on me and that’s why I’ve put in the time,” said Arreola.
“People say he can’t take a punch. Well, I can’t rely only on hitting him on the chin. I have to make sure and throw combinations and move my head. This is the heavyweight division. Sometimes, one punch can change everything, but other times one punch is not good enough.”
Does Mitchell have a chip on his shoulder as a result of what appears to be a low opinion of him heading into the fight with Arreola?
“A little bit, but I don’t lose sleep over it, just like I don’t lose sleep over people saying that I’m a sorry fighter, and that I can’t fight. You’ve got to have thick skin,” said Mitchell.
“You have to have callous skin in this business, and if you don’t, then you’ll drive yourself crazy. So I hear the things that he’s talking, and it definitely doesn’t make me lose sleep. If anything, it motivates me a little bit more. We’ll be ready to go on Sept. 7.”
Critics of Mitchell point to what they consider to be his questionable chin, having been dropped three times in the second and final round of his stoppage loss to Banks, an undersized heavyweight not known for his punching power.
But Mitchell emphasizes the performance during his return bout with Banks as proof of his mental resilience as well as his ability to remain composed while executing a strategy.
“If you would have asked somebody before my last Johnathon Banks fight which Seth Mitchell you were going to see, they would tell you that he’s going to come forward and he’s going to throw a lot of punches, and I totally switched the game plan up. So I won’t fall for the same thing. I know Chris Arreola is coming. One thing I know that is when you fight him, you’ve got to be in shape. I’m going to be in shape, and I’m going to be prepared. My trainer, Andre Hunter, and I, we’re putting together several game plans just in case he comes to the table with something different,” said Mitchell.
“If he wants to box, I’ll be ready for that, if he wants to bang, I’ll be ready for that. In every fight, you have to have patience. There’s a time to go in for the kill, and there’s a time to just wait and see how things transpire, and I think that’s going to be important in this fight. I’m looking at it from all aspects. Like I’ve said, if Chris Arreola applies a lot of pressure, we’ve got a game plan for that, and if he wants to surprise me and come out and try to box me, then we’ve got a game plan for that. But patience is key in life in general, and I don’t think it’s any exception to the fight game.”
Even in the heat of Arreola’s expected head-hunting, Mitchell’s challenge is not to lose his.
“This sport is so unforgiving. You have to be a quick learner. As you know, I started late, when I was 25 years old, and I’m still learning as we speak. But if I want to stay where I’m at and stay on top, then I have to continue to learn, and continue to win, so patience is something that I needed to learn. I couldn’t wait to learn patience, because you all wouldn’t be here today. I had to come out, and I had to win the fight, and I had to show improvement, and you’ve got to show it at a fast pace at this level,” said Mitchell.
“He’s a helluva fighter, I’m a helluva fighter. The only thing that I give him the advantage of is his experience, and I don’t concede to anything else as far as his speed, power, his boxing IQ, any of that. I think that I’m just as good or better than him, but I will give him the advantage in that he has more experience than me. But, you know, I feel that I’m learning each and every fight and that I’ve gotten tremendously better over the last 15 months, and that’s going to to show on Sept. 7.”
Photo: Al Bello-Gettyimages
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org