Mike Arnaoutis: Can He Get Past Ricardo Torres?

15.11.06 - By Jacqui Snow: In 1941, Anton Christoforidis made boxing history by beating Melio Bettina in a fifteen round decision to take the National Boxing Association title. In the 65 years since then, no other Greek fighter has held a professional boxing title, despite the fact that amateur boxing has always been very popular in Greece (it was even included in the first Olympics).

Perhaps this helps to explain some of the buzz surrounding "Mighty" Mike Arnaoutis, originally from Athens and now fighting out of Atlantic City. He's 17-0-2 (9 KOs), with five of his last seven ending in knockouts, including four first-round KOs. Arnaoutis's promoter, Mike Michaels, is already hyping his fighter as the next Kostya Tszyu.

Arnaoutis has made it clear that he has his long-term sights set on Miguel Cotto (27-0, 22 KOs), but he first has to get past Ricardo Torres this Saturday, November 18. Torres has a somewhat inflated record of 29-1-0 (27 KOs), built up almost exclusively in Colombia against fighters with losing records. What's interesting is that Torres' only notable opponent was the aforementioned Miguel Cotto, who dropped Torres four times en route to a 7th round knockout.

"Mighty Mike" is something of a poster boy for Showbox: his fights have been featured an unprecedented four consecutive times. The first bout, against slugger Juan Urango, was an entertaining and action-packed boxer/puncher matchup. It took place in Urango's home state of Florida and while Arnaoutis had to settle for a controversial draw, many observers believe that he outboxed his hard-hitting opponent and should have won the fight. (More recently, Urango was involved in another controversial decision on his home turf—a victory over Naoufel Ben Rabah, who at times appeared to be giving Urango a boxing lesson. Urango faces Ricky Hatton next.)

Arnaoutis faced an unexpectedly tough foe in his most recent Showbox appearance. His original opponent, Michael Warrick, pulled out with a rib injury, to be replaced by Roberto Santa Cruz, 11-2-0 at the time, an inexperienced fighter coming off a two year layoff. Despite never having watched Santa Cruz fight (none of his bouts had been televised), Arnaotis predicted an easy win and boasted that he had would knock Santa Cruz out early. But after hardly throwing a single punch in the first two rounds, Santa Cruz stunned Arnaoutis in the third with a hard right to his nose. He continued to send Arnaoutis wobbling with crushing blows in the fourth and fifth rounds and by the time the bell rang to end the sixth, Arnaoutis was bleeding from the nose and mouth. However, to his credit, Arnaoutis stayed in the fight and remained focused in the face of the onslaught. His stamina and superior boxing skills in the later rounds found favor with the judges and he won a majority decision over a visibly fatigued Santa Cruz.

Arnaoutis was orignally scheduled to battle Vivian Harris on HBO July 29 in what would have been by far the biggest test of his career. However, Arnaoutis backed out of that fight, claiming that he had suffered "a cut" on his left eyelid. The general nature of the injury report had the fans speculating that Arnaoutis simply backed out of the fight. Despite his shocking loss to Carlos Maussa, an unconventional fighter whom Harris now admits he took too lightly, Harris is a talented and dangerous foe. Miguel Cotto, Ricky Hatton and—most famously—Floyd Mayweather all turned down WBA mandatory fights against him. His domination of Arnaoutis' replacement, former lightweight champion Stevie Johnson, further cemented his reputation.

Although Vivian Harris would have been more of a challenge to Arnaoutis, Ricardo Torres did manage to stagger Miguel Cotto a few times during the course of their bout. While Arnaoutis's chin, improved skills, punching power and quickness have the fans talking, he'd be wise to learn a lesson from his experience with Roberto Santa Cruz and avoid looking past his next opponent.

Article posted on 15.11.2006

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