'Mighty' Mike Arnaoutis: The New Generation
Interview by "Big Dog" Benny Henderson Jr. (February 17, 2005)  
'Mighty' Mike Arnaoutis
Junior welterweight sensation 'Mighty' Mike Arnaoutis, 12-0-2 (6), will make his fourth straight Showtime appearance this Friday when he takes on Roberto Santa Cruz, 11-1 (2), on Showtime’s ShoBox: The New Generation starting at 11:pm ET/PT time February 18th. The native of Greece now residing in Atlantic City, NJ, who fights under the guidance of Cestus Management, will be defending his WBO-NABO title which he captured in a show stopping first round knockout win over Jesse Feliciano back in October. 'Mighty' Mike has burst onto the scene, taking apart his opponents and transforming them from contenders to pretenders with his lightening speed and skillful style which he uses to his advantage.

Arnaoutis was originally set to face Michael Warrick but due to a rib injury Warrick was forced to pull out of this Friday’s showdown, which has left 'Mighty' Mike without a specific game plan there has been no time to view fight tapes and train for Cruz’s particular style. Does this bother the 'Athens Assassin'? It doesn’t perturb 'Mighty' Mike a bit. In fact, with all his experience in the amateurs he is used to stepping in the ring with an opponent whose background is unknown. He trains to fight and fights to win, and on Friday he plan to keep his unbeaten record intact. Santa Cruz isn’t a push over opponent for Arnaoutis; but this is a test he is set to take and pass as he keeps on moving up the junior welterweight ladder to stake his claim in his division. 'Mighty' Mike stopped by the Doghouse to give his thoughts on his upcoming bout and his future in the division.

Benny Henderson Jr.: Well, Mike how have you been?

'Mighty' Mike Arnaoutis: I have been good, training and working hard. I feel great. Before a fight, if you've trained and prepared how you're supposed to, you should feel good. I'm looking forward to Friday. I know I'm ready.

BH: Give us your thoughts on becoming the first fighter to fight four consecutive fights on Showtime’s ShoBox: The New Generation?

MMA: I'm very happy about it. Showtime gave me the opportunity to show what I can do, and they liked what they saw.

Mike Michael: Everyone has seen exactly what Showtime has seen out of this kid. They've seen a smooth technical boxer with lightning speed who fights with a warrior's spirit. 'Mighty' Mike is an electric fighter.

BH: You were originally set to face Michael Warrick before he pulled out with a rib injury, now you will be stepping in with Roberto Santa Cruz. What can you tell us about your new opponent?

Nothing! (Laughs) I’ve ever seen him fight. I can tell you he'll be 11-3 after Friday.

BH: I imagine you trained hard for Warrick looking at fight tapes to get his style down etc. in preparing for this bout. But now that you are facing a different opponent, what will be your new fight plan. Do you have to abandon the old plan and search for a new one, and what kind of fight are you anticipating?

Honestly, the only plan I have is to fight smart. I don't know if this guy is going to come out boxing or punching or what. I'll see what he's got, and then I'll do what I have to do to beat him. But it is difficult, because Warrick has a specific style that we were training for. We were watching the tapes and we had put together a fight plan. But there aren’t any tapes of Santa Cruz, so we can't do that now. I know I'm in great condition like I always am, and if Santa Cruz comes in shape then we'll have an action-packed fight.

BH: It has been six months since you and I conducted our first interview together. It was right before you fought for the first time on Showtime when you faced Juan Urango. Since then you have captured a title, have had two tremendous knockouts, moved up the junior welterweight ladder, become the poster boy for ShoBox: The New Generation and have gained loyal 'Mighty' Mike fans. How much have you changed as a fighter and a person in these past six months?

As a fighter, I'm always the same. I've always been this way, since I was an amateur champion for the first time more than twelve years ago. I like to fight hard. The Urango fight was my first fight at 140 pounds, and since then I've been learning. I'm always learning, I get better every time because after every fight I go back in the gym and I try something new. All of this is fun for me, it's hard work but it's what I love to do. When the crowd is cheering for me and everyone is screaming, that is when I fight the best. But I'm the same person and the same fighter as always, getting better every single time.

BH: You have told me before that you wanted to make a statement in the junior welterweight division; three fights later do you feel you have made that statement, and if yes what is it?

I've made the statement that I'm the future of this division. People think of the best young fighters in boxing, and they think of me. This year, I'm going to fight some of the other top fighters in my division. The older guys like Gatti and Mitchell and Tszyu, they are all great fighters but they aren't going to be in this division or even fighting for that much longer. So this year I'm going to make it clear to everyone that I deserve to be fighting for the title. When the time comes that the older guys start leaving the division, I'm going to make sure that everyone knows who is the next in line.

BH: Not to downgrade this fight or your opponent, but what is next for 'Mighty' Mike after this bout?

A week off and then more training! (Laughs)

Mike Michael: We want Oscar Diaz after this fight. He had a great, tough fight with Speedy Gonzales, and we think that Diaz and 'Mighty' Mike would be a great fight. He's perfect for Mike, and that's exactly what we want to do, take care of the other young guys at 140 pounds. We want Oscar Diaz, we want David Diaz, we want Henry Bruseles, and we want all of these guys. And if Urango can get himself into a position where he's getting some attention and bringing something to the table, we'll have a rematch with him as well. But after this fight, we're going to do our best to get Oscar Diaz to step in with Mike and take his beating like a man.

BH: Is there anything you would like to add in closing?

I want to say thank you to everyone who is watching me fight. I try to do everything I can for my fans, and my Cestus team helps me with that. It was just my team and me when I came here to America, we were all alone and there weren't any fans. Now that people are interested in me, I want them to get what they want. I want them to see me in good fights, and I want them to know that I'm with them and I'm glad they're watching.

I would like to thank Damien Picariello for his continuous work with these interviews, it is greatly appreciated. I would like to give 'Mighty' Mike a shout out for taking the time out for the Doghouse fans.
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