01.12.08 – By Jason Peck — He blasted the rugged Jesse Feliciano in a single round, scored a controversial draw over future IBF champion Juan Urango, and spent an inordinate amount of time atop of the WBO’s rankings without a title shot. At one time, the enormous talents of “Mighty Mike” Arnaoutis gave him plenty of spotlight. But times have changed. A look over Arnaoutis’s career reveals the missteps that ruin so many prospects today. Promoters and the public at large are so obsessed with unbeaten records that they never challenge their fighters until it’s too late..
Soon both Kendall Holt and Ricardo Torres conclude their trilogy for the WBO title after both of them defeated Arnaoutis to get there. Arnaoutis needs a big win to prove his worth, but I doubt it will ever happen. Arnaoutis opted instead for a lopsided decision over the non-entity Ben Ankrah, a victory that does nothing to earn him against the fighters he says he wants.
It’s perfectly natural for a prospect to start his career battling non-contenders for ring experience. Just about every fighter who ever lived started as such. But once the fighter graduates to a prospect, he should advance to fighting other prospects. Once he passes that benchmark, he should take it up a notch: Rugged journeymen, former world champions and legitimate contenders. That way there are no surprises by the time his world title campaign begins.
That’s the problem with Arnaoutis. He never stopped fighting prospects, even when it began clear that he was something better.
A fight with former WBA champ Vivian Harris was scheduled, then cancelled when Arnaoutis got injured in training. An equivalent fight never happened, but should have. Instead, Arnaoutis went on to score three first-round KOs over nobody worth mentioning.
In the boxing world, the first-round KO is like junk food. They produce a nice rush, but do little to actually mature and develop a fighter. Mighty Mike suffered accordingly in his first world title fight.
I knew there was trouble when he fought Torres and Holt. Both had more victories than Arnaoutis’ last two opponents combined. When Holt knocked him to the canvas for the first time in his career, Arnaoutis bore the bewildered look of a man who never prepared for such a situation. What a lousy time to learn.
Which brings us to now. After losing to Holt, Mighty Mike out-pointed fellow prospect Lanardo Tyner (19-0). But maybe Arnaoutis could learn a lesson from Tyner. Arnaoutis immediately resumed fighting nobodies; Tyner soon challenged unbeaten Lamont Peterson (and lost, but that happens when you try for a title).
What a shame! The junior welterweight is full of fighters who could give Arnaoutis the maturity he needs. If confronted with better opposition, I’m sure he would rise accordingly. So why doesn’t he?