Chazz Witherspoon prepares for his biggest challenge
By John J. Raspanti, Doghouse Boxing (April 2, 2012) Doghouse Boxing (Photo © Bob Kolb)
Chazz Witherspoon vs. Dominck Jenkins
By John J. Raspanti, Doghouse Boxing: "The greats learned from their losses.”

On April 28 in Atlantic City, New Jersey, Chazz “The Gentlemen” Witherspoon (30-2, 22 KOs) will meet Seth “Mayhem” Mitchell (24-0, 18 KOs) in the biggest fight of his eight-year career. Witherspoon feels he's ready to tangle with heavy-handed Mitchell, whose stock rose mightily after a 2nd round blowout of European heavyweight Timur Ibragimov.

“I’m fighting a guy that they believe is the next best thing in the heavyweight division,“ said Witherspoon from his training camp in Hayward, California. “I believe people have put my career out to pasture. It’s funny that boxing does that. It’s the only sport where one or two losses and your career is over,"he said. "The greats learned from their losses."

Witherspoon feels his own two losses, though painful, helped his career.

“Definitely, you always have to reflect on a loss and learn from it,” said Witherspoon.

In 2008 Witherspoon lost for the first time against heavyweight contender Chris Arreola.

“At the end of the day the Arreola fight was something that I took to early,” Witherspoon said. “When I got in there with Arreola, he pulled me into his fight, he hits hard and I had never been hurt in a fight."

"I didn’t know how to react from that," said Witherspoon. "They say when you get hit its either flight or fight. Well, the fighter comes out in me and I started fighting that much harder.”

Witherspoon’s other loss was to number-one ranked Tony Thompson.  The 6'3 battler suffered a concussion early in the fight.

“I’m willing to die in there," he said. "It’s my pride. It wasn’t smart but it is what it is."

The Philadelphia bred and born Witherspoon comes from good stock. His uncle is former heavyweight champion Tim Witherspoon. A few months ago, Witherspoon signed on with Jawbreaker Promotions. Another former heavyweight champion, Ken Norton, along with Steve Russa, run Jawbreaker. Norton suggested bringing Virgil Hunter on board to train Witherspoon.

“We talked about taking this fight. Virgil’s name came up from Kenny Norton,” said Witherspoon. “I told my trainers back in Philadelphia that I wanted to bring in Virgil and they were gracious enough to be cool with that. They told me they just want me to be successful.”

“Things are going real well," said Hunter, who has been working with Witherspoon for two weeks. "Chazz is intelligent. He doesn’t leave it in the gym, “ said the veteran trainer whom Witherspoon compares to a professor. “He takes what he learns with and analyzes it," Hunter said. "It’s a pleasure working with him because everything makes sense."

"This has been easiest transition I’ve ever had since I’ve been training fighters.”

But the intensity of training has Witherspoon, a father of four young boys, missing his family.

“This is the first time I’ve had a real camp,” Witherspoon said. “I’m able to concentrate on boxing and only boxing. This is whole different level of boxing.”

With four weeks to go until his showdown with Mitchell, Witherspoon already looks sharp. The 30-year-old has nothing but praise for his opponent.

“It’s obvious that he (Mitchell) is strong. Ibraginov had never been stopped," said Witherspoon the student. “You can see that Seth is tenacious in there. He has some real good attributes for someone who doesn’t have a lot of experience. With a guy like him, I expect the fight to start real fast," he said. "He comes to fight and I come to fight."

It’s refreshing that neither heavyweight has a propensity for braggadocio. They let their punches do their talking.

“Seth is not boastful and neither I am. There’s no bad guy in this fight," Witherspoon said.
"I don’t think people should go to the bathroom for this one."  

The Chazz Witherspoon versus Seth Mitchell contest will be televised on HBO's Championship Boxing. The headline bout April 28 is the rematch between light heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins and Chad Dawson.

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