When Jesse Feliciano, 12-2, stepped into the ring at the Chumash Casino in Santa Ynez, California last Friday night, he had no idea that "Mighty" Mike Arnaoutis held a card up his sleeve that would spell an early end to the hotly anticipated NABO championship contest. The three knockdowns dealt to Feliciano in rapid succession prompted referee James Jen Kin III to step in and put a merciful end to the one sided contest, and in the blink of an eye, the fight was over and a new champion was crowned. The TKO came at 2 minutes 49 seconds of the opening round, and the message was clear: No matter who sits down at the table, "Mighty" Mike has an ace in the whole.
Says the new NABO jr. welterweight champion, "I did not think the knockout would come so quickly. Feliciano is known for having a good chin, so I though it would take me some time to break him down and make him quit. The way it turned out, he didn't even have to quit. The referee did it for him. The first knockdown set me up, and then I broke him with the body shots."
Advisor Mike Michael weighed in on the bout and offered some words on his formula for success. "All the things we had "Mighty" Mike working on, they all paid off. Our trainer, Bill Johnson, had him working on turning, going to the body and sitting down on his shots, and that's exactly what he did and that's why Feliciano got knocked out."
When asked about future plans for the young pugilist, Michael had plenty to say. "I do want to clarify one thing: When Steve Farhood said on the ShoBox broadcast that we wanted six more fights before we crack the top twenty, we must have not understood each other because that's not the way we're looking to move "Mighty" Mike. We're talking about six more fights before we fight the big fight, before we fight for the title and become the junior welterweight champion of the world. As far as the top twenty, that's what we're doing right now. With the help of Gary Shaw and of Showtime, we're moving Mike like they used to move fighters, and this fight was just another step forward. So now, we come back home and we take ten days off, and everybody relaxes and enjoys the victory. But after those ten days, we go back into training, and we don't come out until the next fight. And at that point, "Mighty" Mike will be better than he was in this fight, just like he was better in this one than in the last one. Every fight, new qualities are showing in "Mighty" Mike, and they're being brought out by taking his incredible talent and putting in work in the gym that would put half the guys on the top of the rankings to shame. This is a young fighter being developed here, right before the eyes of the entire country. If it's half as exciting to watch as it is to be a part of, the boxing fans must be in love with our kid."
The next outing for "Mighty" Mike Arnaoutis is scheduled for December of this year, set to be televised on the Showtime network's ShoBox series. Although an opponent has yet to be named, the phenom from Athens has a steely confidence in his abilities. "Whoever they choose for me to fight, that's who I fight," says Arnaoutis. "I will watch the tape and see who I will fight, and then I'll go into the gym and get ready to beat him. Now, I enjoy the belt and enjoy the win, but in a few days, I will be back to work and ready to keep that belt from whoever is going to try and take it from me."
When asked for final words, Arnaoutis grinned and offered a repeat of his jubilant comments last friday, speaking without an interpreter and with the enthusiasm of a young man still new to the fanfare and fame of the professional prize ring. "Showtime is my time," proclaimed Arnaoutis. "There is a new champion! Now is Mighty Mike time!"
It surely is.