Chris Traietti (21-3, 17 KOs) takes on undefeated Mike Lee (17-0, 10 KOs) in a ten round bout at the UIC Forum in Chicago, Illinois on September 30th for the vacant USBA light heavyweight title. This fight will be televised on the CBS Sports Network.
This is an extremely important bout for Traietti because with a victory, it will move him into the top fifteen of the IBF world ranking and help to facilitate a significant fight in the future. The thirty-one year old orthodox boxer from Quincy, Massachusetts has won eleven consecutive bouts, all by way of knockout since his last lost to former world title challenger Edwin Rodriguez.
Traietti was gracious enough to take time out of his busy training camp to discuss with me his upcoming fight with Lee, the keys to his recent success, his new gym TKO BoxFit, and much more.
James Stillerman: What are your thoughts on Lee?
Chris Traietti: He is a big, strong, athletic fighter with a good chin, but he also has some weaknesses that I believe I can exploit to help me prevail in this matchup.
James Stillerman: How do you see this bout playing out?
Chris Traietti: One way or another, one of us is going to knock the other one out, probably by the fourth or fifth round. I either win by knockout or I get knocked out and he also wins a lot of his bouts via knockout. This is going to be a great action-packed fight while it last.
James Stillerman: What do you need to do to prevail in this matchup?
Chris Traietti: I need to connect on several powerful shots early on because he has not been in a real barn burner where a fighter puts a lot of pressure on him and hits him hard. The last fighter who did that was Paul Gonzalez and Lee only won by a split decision in that bout. So, if I can pressure him and land some big power shots early on, then I will have a great opportunity at beating him.
James Stillerman: Is it true that you have wanted this fight for a while?
Chris Traietti: Yes, I felt like he is a boxer with a lot of name recognition and if I could beat him, which I believe I can, it would help me to obtain bigger bouts. I reached out to his various promoters over the years to obtain this fight, but nothing ever happened until this year when he signed with Lou DiBella and once that happened, DiBella contacted me about this fight and I accepted it right away.
James Stillerman: How is training camp going? Are you doing anything differently due to the magnitude of this fight?
Chris Traietti: It has been going well and we have had really good sparring sessions. I have not done anything drastically differently for this fight other than doing three sparring sessions a week as opposed to one a week and I am doing more road work than I have for past fights to make sure that I am in the best possible shape of my life.
James Stillerman: What have you learned throughout your career that will make you better prepared for this bout?
Chris Traietti: I am much more vulnerable and I am not as good as I thought I was. Early on in my career, I believed I was untouchable and I did not train as hard as I should have which caused me to have a 10-3 record. Two of those losses, I had no business losing since I was not as prepared as I should have been and as for my third loss to Rodriguez, I took that bout on two weeks’ notice. After my last loss, I took a year off, did some soul searching, and decided I wanted to make one more run at boxing. When I came back, I did it with a renewed sense of dedication and work ethic and I reunited with my former trainer Jimmy Farrell and I have not loss since.
James Stillerman: How significant of a fight is this for you?
Chris Traietti: This is without a doubt a big fight for me; however, I am not going to say if I lose this bout that my career is over and I should retire. You never want to put that much pressure on yourself because otherwise you become overwhelmed with the fight. But, with that being said, I need to win this one in order to have an opportunity at bigger and better fights in the future.
James Stillerman: What would it be like to win the USBA light heavyweight title?
Chris Traietti: The USBA title would be nice to have; however, what is even more important to me than winning the belt is that with a victory, it will put me in the top ten to fifteen of the IBF world ranking which will help me to obtain another significant fight, and if I win couple of bouts after that, it might potentially put me in a position for a world title fight.
James Stillerman: What have been the keys for you in winning eleven in a row, all by knockout?
Chris Traietti: My trainer Farrell has been the main reason for my recent success. He does an excellent job at improving my muscle memory with basic fundamentals such as my footwork and jab, capitalizing on another fighter’s mistakes, and making sure that I am in the best possible shape.
James Stillerman: What is it like to be a promoter, matchmaker, publicist, and then fight in the main event?
Chris Traietti: It is extremely stressful when you have to do all of those jobs. It gets so busy that sometimes you forget that you are fighting in the main event and when I do box, I am already exhausted. Even though it is a lot of work, I did it because I can make additional money and until recently, no promoter wanted to work with me, so in order for me to get fights, I had to promote them and do everything else by myself. This is what makes this bout so nice because all I have to do is fight Lee and nothing else.
James Stillerman: How is the boxing gym that you opened up recently?
Chris Traietti: [Super featherweight Ryan] Kielczweski (25-2, 7 KOs) and I opened a gym called TKO BoxFit in May of this year and it has been busy. It is located on 50 Finnell Drive in Weymouth, Massachusetts and it is more of a fitness gym as opposed to a boxing gym. We offer boxing, cardio, and other types of fitness classes, as well as private and group lessons. This gym is open to everyone no matter what their skill or fitness level is. [For more information on their gym, visit TKO BoxFit on Facebook or call them at (339) 205-6843].
James Stillerman: What are your thoughts on your career thus far?
Chris Traietti: I have been an underachiever. I need to make up for lost time because I am no longer twenty years old. I turned thirty-one earlier this month and I am not where I would have envisioned my career to be at this point in time; however, right now, I am making steady progress in the right direction.
James Stillerman: Any closing thoughts?
Chris Traietti: I truly appreciate all of my fans for cheering me on throughout my career. They never gave up on me and I thank them for that. Hopefully, I can reward all my fans for all their love and support that they have given me over the years with a big win over Lee.