In the big picture, heavyweights Chris “The Nightmare” Arreola and Seth “Mayhem” Mitchell are correct regarding their September 7 battle at the Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, California.
The winner will likely land a shot at the heavyweight crown while the loser will look to salvage whatever pieces remain in a once-promising career.
Arreola, 32, (35-3, 30 KOs) is coming off a 12-round thumping at the hands of Bermane Stiverne last April. Favored to win the fight, a badly broken nose in round three made it difficult for him to breath. He survived on guts and intestinal fortitude.
Mitchell, 31, (26-1-1, 19 KOs) is no stranger to courage himself. After being stopped by Jonathon Banks last year, he refused a tune-up fight and instead, stepped back into the ring with Banks. Mitchell was wobbled early in the fight, but maintained his composure and stuck to his gameplan. Mitchell captured the rematch by unanimous decision.
Arreola learned to box at an early age. The California native had captured the National Golden Gloves in the light heavyweight division by the age of 20 and competed in close to 200 amateur bouts. Arreola turned professional in 2003 and won his first 27 contests, 24 by knockout.
Mitchell, who was born in Brandywine, MD, played college football for the Michigan State Spartans before a knee injury forced him to the sidelines. After witnessing a former college opponent make his professional debut at the famed Madison Square Garden in New York, Mitchell decided to give boxing a try.
Arreola, who fought for the world heavyweight championship four years ago, considers Mitchell something of an upstart.
"It is like if I decided to just go and try out for the Raiders,” Arreola told Ryan Burton of BoxingScene.com. “It is not going to happen. I can't just train for a year and say I am going to go try out. This isn't a game. This is boxing. You can't just go out and do this. There are no timeouts."
Mitchell is aware of Arreola's opinions.
“Arreola and his trainer have been mentioning my name for over two years,” Mitchell told this writer during a recent telephone interview. “I've heard some of the stuff they've said before. Football players can't box, and things of that nature. These comments are along the same lines," he said.
“I don't really care what they say. Every time Arreola had a big fight, he lost. I laugh off the comments and continue to go out and do my best.”
Arreola's loss to Stiverne four months ago was his first setback in three years. To counteract that defeat, team Arreola decided a change of scenery was in order, moving training camp to Arizona. Now in shape and ready to go, the former USNB heavyweight titleholder believes a victory over Mitchell won't be that difficult.
"It won't go past six. I am going to bring the heat up his ass,” Arreola told BoxingScene Radio. “I went to train in the heat to bring the heat and he is going to feel it. I am going to whoop his ass. Not only will I whoop his ass, but I will be talking shit while I do it.”
Mitchell, after his victory over Banks, returned to the gym immediately. His impetus to succeed is on par with Arreola’s.
“The motivation to reach my goal of becoming the heavyweight champion of the world is my goal,” Mitchell said. “Supporting my family and doing my best for them and the people who continue to support Seth Mitchell are what is important to me. Chris Arreola runs his mouth whether he wins or loses, and he will continue to do so long after this fight, so addressing what he says is a waste of my time.
“He will get to say what he wants to say in that ring on September seventh. Only difference is, I'll be right in front of him to answer right back,” Mitchell added.
Both fighters are dogged and determined.
A loss for either would be devastating.
Everything is on the line.
The fantasy matchup from a few years ago is now a reality.
Let the fireworks begin.
John J. Raspanti responds to all his emails. Please send all questions and comments to John at: firstname.lastname@example.org