Seth Mitchell, Deontay Wilder, Bermane Stiverne & Chris Arreola: THE AMERICAN HEAVYWEIGHT SCENE – Boxing News
On Saturday, one of the small crop of American heavyweights, Seth Mitchell, 26-1-1, 19 KO’s, will face his toughest challenge in Chris Arreola, 35-3, 30 KO’s, in a 12 round bout for the WBC international heavyweight title. This is the first step to getting a shot at WBC kingpin, Vitali Klitschko.
Mitchell was very hyped, but anyone with any boxing knowledge can see through the publicity and recognize that he is a C level fighter. He is an exciting C level fighter, but that doesn’t change the fact that his brittle chin and lack of defense will make him easy prey for any true heavyweight contender, which is why I’m quite puzzled that Arreola was the pick for an opponent. Arreola would be one of the last guys that I would put in there with Mitchell.
In his last two fights, Mitchell’s record is 1-1, with a KO loss to Johnathon Banks, followed by a decision victory. What stood out most about the Banks’ outings was the inability of Mitchell to take the punch of a blown up cruiserweight. Even at cruiserweight, Banks was not a puncher. In the rematch, there were more questions than answers. The biggest question that I have, and this may ruffle some feathers, is: Why didn’t Banks fight? Every single time that he stunned Mitchell, he backed off and let him recover. He showed no interest in winning that fight and, at times, it looked like he could easily win if he just opened up. This is boxing and boxing can be corrupt and there is a lot of money to be made on Seth Mitchell winning. That’s something to think about with the Banks rematch and it’s something to think about as we head into the Arreola fight.
Chris Arreola is a waste of talent and he knows this. He has spoken of what he is going to do but has failed to do it. His conditioning has hurt him immensely in big fights. At the low levels of the game, he easily destroys his opposition, but when he steps up and is out of shape, he can’t win. His loss to Tomasz Adamek was a fight that he should have easily won, but being so overweight, he couldn’t seem to pull the trigger and allowed the smaller man to steal the win. He came into his other two defeats in questionable shape as well, losing via decision to Bermane Stiverne and by TKO to Vitali Klitschko. The supporters for Arreola are the most frustrated fans in boxing.
There are three scenarios I see playing out with Mitchell – Arreola. One, Arreola lands early and the fight is over within two rounds, exposing the heavyweight mediocrity for what he is and bringing Arreola back into the mix. Two, Arreola’s mental state isn’t right and the beating he took in the Stiverne fight is still fresh on his mind, giving Mitchell the opportunity to land early and catch him. Three, we see a non-effort by Arreola, as he allows Mitchell to cruise to a decision win. If this should happen, an investigation needs to be launched. I may be wrong about a fix in the Banks fight, but I make Mitchell a heavy under dog in this bout and it should be watched.
The WBC #1 contender, Bermane Stiverne, 23-1-1, 20 KO’s, has been put into a holding pattern by WBC champion, Vitali Klitschko. Stiverne proved he belonged with a dominant and punishing twelve round decision win over Arreola. The body work and power that Stiverne brings into the ring makes him a formidable opponent for Vitali at this stage of his career and that is why his waiting period is so frustrating. The wait may be worse for the older Klitschko, but for Stiverne to take advantage he must get into better shape. He was heavy in his win over Arreola and he looked slow. When he’s lighter, he’s quicker, and he should bring that into the ring with the sometimes clunky Klitschko. Stiverne is overlooked by much of the public, but he is one of the best big men in the game right now.
Deontay Wilder, 29-0, 29 KO’s, is 6’7” and brings pulverizing power into the ring. He has been brought along very slowly, but the fact that he is devastating his opposition is impressive. It has yet to be seen if he has the other assets needed to be the next big thing in boxing, but, thus far, nobody has been able to test him. Sergei Liakhovich, the former WBO champion, was supposed to push him into deep waters but looked like a fish out of water as he flopped around the canvas in the very first round. The first right hand that Wilder landed was enough to destroy Liakhovich. Steve Farhood of Showtime, immediately began clamoring for a Wilder-Dominic Guinn fight because Guinn “has never been knocked out before.” That suggestion was laughable. Guinn has lost four of his last five and was rocked in his last fight with feather-fisted Tomasz Adamek. Wilder needs to fight somebody with a pulse like Dereck Chisora, Tony Thompson or Manuel Charr. A Guinn fight does nothing to help his career or prove that he is the real deal.
A fighter that is currently under the radar in the heavyweight division is Bryant Jennings, 17-0, 9 KO’s. He has knocked out four of his last five opponents and is looking for a big fight to break him out of obscurity. His recent victories have been impressive and some of the things that he does is reminiscent of Evander Holyfield. Jennings has heart and throws in combination. He doesn’t do anything great, but he does everything good. He is a fighter that should be watched and would be a good test for any top ten heavyweight at this time and he is ready for them.
We saw the end of Tony Thompson, 38-4, 26 KO’s, as a serious title contender recently. He came in overweight and lost a wide decision to Kubrat Pulev in an IBF title eliminator. Maybe the idea of forcing Wladimir Klitschko into another fight was enough to make Thompson not fight his best fight, but whatever the case is, the back to back KO wins over British prospect, David Price, may be more of what Price isn’t then what Thompson is. Thompson will take on the role of gatekeeper if he doesn’t retire.
The American heavyweight may make a return to the top of the division. He may have to wait until Wladimir Klitschko retires, but there are some interesting big men on the rise. The most exciting is Deontay Wilder, but you have to be curious as to why they are matching him so softly. We’ve seen this before with Shannon Briggs. He was blasting everyone out of there, but he was brought along incredibly slowly and wasn’t the heavyweight savior that they advertised him to be. Wilder could be the next big thing or he could be the next Jorge Luis Gonzalez…a man with a great amateur track record, devastating knockouts and high potential, but, in the end, not championship material.
This Saturday, Mitchell tries to overcome Arreola and we will either see the end of the Nightmare or the return of the popular heavyweight into the top 10 rankings and possibly somebody that could test the up and comers like Wilder and Jennings. Stay tuned American heavyweight fans…there is some hope.