Interview & photos by Bob Caico
Two-time WBA super middleweight champion Byron Mitchell (26-4-1, 19 KOs) continues his comeback this Friday when he challenges tough Zach Walters (23-3, 18 KOs) in Buffalo, N.Y for the NABA light heavyweight title.
Mitchell lost his title to Sven Ottke in 2003 and was defeated by Joe Calzaghe three months later. He did not fight again for over four years, until this past November when he knocked out veteran E.T. Whitaker in Niagara Falls.
Now, he said, he feels he is ready for the light heavyweights, and his many critics.
Why the long layoff after your fight with Joe Calzaghe?
Promotional problems, I couldn’t get out of my contract with DKP. They didn’t try to fight me and it took that long to relinquish that contract.
You are campaigning at light heavyweight now. Can you handle the weight and how has your training been?
The weight is no big deal. I fought mostly my whole amateur career at light heavy. The transition is very minimal. Training has been great; I have been training with some top-notch guys down in Mexico including Marco Antonio Rubio who will be fighting the day after me against Kelly Pavlik.
This is your second fight with your new promoter (X-Cel Worldwide) and it’s been three months since your first with them. Is this a pace you are hoping to keep up?
This is a pace that I absolutely love because all those years I was with Don King I had maybe 14 fights, that’s ridiculous. I am content with the schedule and the frequency of the fights.
Your last fight lasted 1:10 which wasn’t a real barometer on your comeback. How important is this fight to your comeback?
The way I look at it is that every fight is important because had I not been as successful in the last fight I wouldn’t be getting this opportunity. So this upcoming fight is just as important because it’s going to send me to bigger and better opportunities.
What is your timetable to fight a top contender at light heavyweight?
I feel I’ll be fighting anybody in the top ten and possibly a champion before the years up. I highly anticipate that to happen.
Is there anything you want to say to the boxing world?
I commend Nick Garone and X-Cel Worldwide for giving me the opportunity to make this comeback. Many have been naysayers, bad mouthing me to my managers, Xavier Toliver and Eddie Gilbert and to Nick Garone. This comeback I contribute to all the people who say I couldn’t do it and all the unworthy things they have said about me.
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The 8-bout card will be held February 20th at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center starting at 7:30. Tickets can be purchased online at www.championsofboxing.com or calling 201.951.0076 or 631.878-1676.