‘Mighty’ Mike Arnaoutis: Moving on up
Interview with NABO light welterweight champion ‘Mighty’ Mike Arnaoutis
Interview by Benny Henderson Jr. (November 4, 2004)
Light welterweight contender ‘Mighty’ Mike Arnaoutis remains undefeated after a show-stopping performance and I mean literally a show-stopper when he knocked out fellow fighter Jessie Feliciano in the first round of their bid for the vacant NABO light welterweight title that was televised on Showtime last Thursday night. It was clear that the Greek fighter meant business when he dropped Feliciano three times in the first round to get the win, improving his undefeated record to 11-0-2 (5). Arnaoutis came on the scene when he faced undefeated power-hitter Juan Urango back in August in a fight which he was suppose to lose. After twelve torrid rounds the fight went to the scorecards and was ruled a disappointing, but most all a controversial, draw. But with the win over Feliciano, Arnaoutis becomes a contender and should move up in the rankings and start working on a run for the title, and he ain’t looking back. The fast paced fighter is more than ready to show the boxing world that he is ‘Mighty’, and with his slick moving southpaw style and the confidence he is carrying he is poised to set the division on fire. ‘Mighty’ Mike Arnaoutis stopped by the Doghouse along with his advisor Mike Michael to give his thoughts on his recent victory and his future.
‘Mighty’ Mike Arnaoutis
Benny Henderson: Give us your thoughts on Mike Arnaoutis and his future.
Mike Michael: As far as the fight, we’re about as pleased as we can be. Let me tell you something, every single time we call on this kid to step up; he comes through like a champion should. When we said, “Come on, you’re going to move to America where you’ve never been before and you’re going to fight over here with the best fighters in the world,” we all worked hard and Mike passed the test. When we said, “Now you’re going to start fighting guys who you won’t knock out, and you’re going to have to earn a decision in a country that at the time was a foreign place,” we worked hard again and ‘Mighty’ Mike passed again. When we said, “Now it’s time to go on Showtime and fight a kid that everyone thinks is going to knock you out, and we’ve got to go to his hometown and take the fight away from him,” we worked even harder than before and ‘Mighty’ Mike came through, and not only did he take that fight from Juan Urango, he took his fans from him as well. Now the Florida fans don’t want to see Juan Urango, they want ‘Mighty’ Mike to come back. And so this time, we said; “Now we have an opportunity to go back on Showtime, and you’ve got to show everyone that the Urango fight wasn’t just a fluke. You have to be a champion and fight like a champion.” Well, we put the work in, and that’s exactly what Mike did. He fought like a champion and we’re very proud of him.
As far as what the future holds, we’re just going to keep rolling. We’ll be back on Showtime in December, and we’ll show the fans again why ‘Mighty’ Mike is the most exciting prospect at 140 pounds. He’s the NABO champion and he’s fighting tough fighters, and we’re just moving forward like we’re always doing. The machine is going to keep rolling, and ‘Mighty’ Mike is going to keep winning. And by the middle of next year, Mike will be a top ten guy at junior welterweight.
BH: First Mike I just want to congratulate you on your very impressive win against Feliciano.
Mike Arnaoutis: Thank you very much. I worked very hard for that fight, I trained harder than I ever trained before, and it paid off. Next time, I will train even harder.
BH: Did you even expect it to end in such a short time with such a show stopping performance?
MA: I always expect a show-stopping performance, because I’m a show-stopping fighter. When I come into the ring, I want the fans to know that they are about to see something that they’ll remember. Did I expect it to be so short? No, because Feliciano has a reputation as a tough guy who tries to wear you down. But I knew I hurt him with the first left hand, and I took it down to the body and made him stay hurt. When you see the opportunity to end the fight, you have to take it.
BH: You know you really haven’t been known for your knockout power with just four knockouts in your ten wins prior to this bout. Has it just been dormant or has it been something you have been working on?
MA: It has been something I’ve been working on. I’ve always been fast, and when you are an amateur you can’t go for the knockout, you just have to move and score points. Now that I’m fighting as a professional, I’ve been working in the gym with Mr. Johnson on sitting down on my punches and really digging in, especially to the body. The punch that hurts you is the one that you don’t see coming, so if I can use my speed and throw that punch, then when I sit down and really make it count it will be a killer. If I fought Urango today I really think that I would knock him out, I really do. That’s how much I’ve been working on my power and my body shots.
BH: You came in the Juan Urango fight virtually an unknown fighter and now here you are headlining Showtime in the main event. Has that brought you a much bigger fan base with the exposure and has the American public accepted you?
MA: Every day I see that people are talking about me and wanting to see me fight, and that makes me want to fight harder because everyone will be watching. In the Urango fight, people paid attention because I was the underdog and most people will tell you that I won the fight. Now that everyone knows what I can do, I hope they will keep watching, because I’m going to keep fighting, and every time it will be better and better. The American fans are real fight fans, and they know when you are a real fighter.
BH: How disappointing was it for you to have had the upper hand in the Urango bout and then it come out a draw?
MA: Of course it was very disappointing. I knew I won that fight, and I wanted them to do what was right and give me the decision. But we were in his hometown, and what happened is what happened. Everyone who saw the fight knows who won, and that’s what counts, not a number on a page.
BH: This win made you the new NABO light welterweight champion so with this win it must just make the Urango bout obsolete in your mind. Or would you like to get a rematch with Juan since he is ahead of you in the WBO rankings and get your win this time?
MA: Well, after what happened with Feliciano I think the WBO will put me ahead of Urango. And of course I would like to fight him again. Of course. But there would have to be a fair fight, not with the judges from last time and not how it was last time we were in Florida. The fans in Florida were very good to me and it made me want to go back, but I was really treated as an opponent down there. I did not like the way I was treated by the commission, by the judges, by all the people working on the fight that made Urango feel comfortable and made me feel like the guy who was supposed to lose the fight. So yes, I would love to fight Urango again, but I know that my team will not let me go and fight down there again until there are some changes with how we will be treated and who will be overseeing the fight. And this time, I want the scorecards right in front of me so I can see why it was taking so long to tell everyone who won the fight. I don’t like to stand in the ring and watch everyone argue over the scorecards. If everything is already scored, what’s the problem? Just add them up. Why did it take so long to add up three scorecards and say what happened?
BH: You have a big match coming up in your division between Sharmba Mitchell versus Kostya Tszyu. Who do you see winning this fight and why?
MA: I like Sharmba Mitchell. Mitchell has been fighting, he’s fast, quick hands, and I like his style. He will outbox Kostya Tszyu, who has been a great champion but has been away from the ring for too long.
BH: You are ranked #15 in the World Boxing Organization as of the 18th of October, can the boxing public be expecting you to make a crack at the top ten soon? And if yes, who would you like to step in the ring with who is in the top ten?
MA: Well, we are still moving. I am moving forward faster than a lot of guys, but there is still a lot of work to be done. But if I fight three more fights, I think my team will let me fight a top ten fighter, and then we will see who wants to give me a chance. My team always tells me, “Mike, no one is going to want to fight you, you have to make them fight you.” So when the time comes, and it will be soon, then we will see who will fight and who will run.
BH: What separates you from the other in your division?
MA: Everything. Everything. I’m not like any other fighter in my division or in the world. I work harder, I train to fight 24 rounds, and I have a team behind me that knows how to make that work pay off. It’s all in the fights all anyone has to do is watch the tapes. Urango, Feliciano, now whoever is next, what happened in those fights is what makes me different from any other fighter. Who else is there that beat Urango in his hometown? Who else is there that even fought a real fight with Urango? Who else is there that knocked Feliciano out in one round? That’s why I’m different.
BH: Is there anything you would like to add to this interview or say to the fans or your division?
MA: I want to say thank you to everyone that watches me fight and enjoys my fights. Everyone always says to me, “Mike, when are you going to fight in your hometown?” They mean in Atlantic City. And my team tells me, “Mike, anywhere they have boxing, that is your hometown. Anyone who likes to watch boxing that is a person who is your fan. Once they see you fight, they will be a ‘Mighty’ Mike fan.” So I want to say thank you to everyone who is a ‘Mighty’ Mike fan, and everyone who is going to be a ‘Mighty’ Mike fan. Thank you, and I will see you again soon.
I would like to thank Damien Picariello for all his wonderful help with this interview and a big shout out to Mike Arnaoutis and Mike Michael for their time, it is greatly appreciated.
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