Mitchell says he has to go through Williams
Appeal Sports Writer
RENO – Now 35, two-time former junior welterweight titlist Sharmba Mitchell has seen a lot of action in his boxing career.
And although he had 130 amateur fights (losing in the 1988 Olympic Trials to Kevin Kelley) and has a professional record of 57-5 with 30 knockouts, Mitchell still looks several years younger than what his driver’s license reads.
“Being able to hit and not get hit,” Mitchell said Friday at a press conference held at the Silver Legacy. “I do my thing. I bring everyone to my level. I made (former junior welterweight beltholder) Vince Phillips fight my kind of fight.”
Without reciting all 56 others, Mitchell, of Washington, D.C., has made a lot of boxers fight his kind of fight, but tonight it will be a matter of whether he can make fellow southpaw Paul Williams, the North American Boxing Organization titlist, dance to his tune at Reno Events Center.
Williams, 30-0 (22), of Aiken, S.C., is not only 6 inches taller at 6-foot-1, but also has a freakishly long 79-inch reach.
“I’ve seen taller, sparred with taller, fought taller,” Mitchell said with a smile. “I’ve seen and done it all. I’ve seen every style.”
In an era where a lot of fighters are maneuvered through various sanctioning bodies’ rankings like so many chess pieces, both the undefeated Williams and Mitchell could have found easier opposition.
For his part, the 25-year-old Williams, ranked No.1 by the WBO and No. 2 by the WBC, could have just played it safe until WBO beltholder Antonio Margarito gave him a title shot.
As for Mitchell, he said that a more cautious approach didn’t fit in with his career game plan.
“I need to achieve my goals,” Mitchell said. “I set goals for myself and set out to achieve them. That’s what I’m here (in Reno) to do. I want to fight Paul Williams and go through him to get the title shot. I can’t go around him. I can’t go underneath him. I have to go through him.”
The Williams-Mitchell fight will be broadcast tonight at 10:05 p.m. (delayed on the West Coast) on HBO Boxing After Dark, which will open with a re-run of last week’s Oleg Maskaev-Hasim Rahman WBC heavyweight title clash.
There will be five other bouts, including an eight-round heavyweight clash between Reno’s “Koncrete” Kelvin Davis – a former IBF cruiserweight champion – and Chris “Cold Steel” Thomas.
The 28-year-old Davis, 21-4-2 (16), grew emotional on the dais, stopping several times to adjust his breathing, while speaking of Thomas, whom he knocked out in the second round of his ninth professional bout.
“I’ve been on the road (most of his career). I’m home now. I’m here to do business,” said Davis, who was adorned with his IBF cruiserweight belt and a red, white and blue jumpsuit that would make Evel Knievel proud. “I’m really pumped right now. I was sick at the time when I fought (Thomas). I remember him shaking his hand in my face, saying how he was going to knock me out. That sticks in my head and has never left. He gave me total disrespect. I laid him out.”
Thomas, 16-5-2 (14), of Chicago, had a different version of the story – one that even defies boxing’s record books.
“I’m quiet. I don’t go around talking trash,” Thomas said. “I never even met this guy (Davis). I do my talking with my fists.”
“He doesn’t remember because he was knocked out,” Davis shot back as Thomas walked off the dais.
The card will showcase two other undefeated heavyweights, including Chris Arreola and Eddie Chambers, in eight-round bouts.
Chambers, 26-0 (14), of Homewood, Pa., will test Domonic Jenkins, 9-5-1 (3), of Dallas, Texas, and Arreola, 16-0 (14), Riverside, Calif., will face Damian Norris, 8-1 (6), Las Vegas via Cuba.
Originally from East Los Angeles, the 25-year-old Arreola had only two street fights, choosing instead to follow his father’s advice and stick to sports.
He started boxing at 7 (“I was a weekend warrior,” he said) but played high school football and basketball when he turned 16. The 6-foot-4 Arreola picked up boxing again when he was 20, finishing with more than 130 amateur bouts before turning pro.
As a professional he’s trained and sparred with former heavyweight champion Hasim Rahman and James Toney at Freddie Roach’s Wild Card Gym, in Los Angeles.
Arreola has a 4-year-old daughter (Danae) and as a side-job, trains white-collar workers to box.
“They love it,” he said. “They come back. I like it when they come in and don’t know how to throw punches. And I was surprised to find out that girls are tougher than guys.”
Norris might have something to say about that and Arreola said he wouldn’t take his opponent lightly.
“There’s no telling (about Norris),” Arreola said. “I saw him beat (former amateur star and would-be Davis opponent) Jason Gavern. In order to get him (Gavern) he has to be good. (But Norris winning) it ain’t gonna happen. I’ve been working for this for too long. I trained at Big Bear and it’s no joke. You don’t make your money in the fight, you make your money in training. And I’m eating right for the first time.”
In other action, Ty Barnette, 7-0 (5), of Washington, D.C., will face Ruben Jacoby, of Colorado Springs, Colo., who will be making his pro debut, in a four-round lightweight bout.
And Maxwell Taylor, 12-2-1 (5), Baltimore, Md., will take on Oscar Gonzalez, 9-5-1 (3), of Tampa, Fla., in a six-round junior middleweight bout.
HBO BOXING AFTER DARK
What: Six-bout pro boxing card
Where: Reno Events Center
When: Doors open 5 p.m.; first bout 5:50
Television: (10:05 delayed broadcast)
Ticket info: $30, $55, $65, $100, $155. Available at Reno Events Center, by calling (800) 648-5966 or (800) 304-2695, or by logging on to http://www.ticketmasters .com