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Interview with Sharmba Mitchell

Posted on 04/15/2008

Interview with Sharmba Mitchell

The following interview was conducted by Eric Rineer, exclusively for

Vero Beach, Fla. — It was literally a few minutes before Sharmba Mitchell was to leave his training camp in Vero Beach on Tuesday that I caught up with the former WBA junior-welterweight champ for a Q & A.

Mitchell, 50-3 (29 KOs), of Tacoma Park, Md., who is set to fight Carlos Wilfredo Vilches, Argentina’s junior welterweight champion, had just completed his final day of workouts. The two fighters will meet Saturday at Bally’s Casino in Atlantic City, N.J. Vilches brings a record of 38-2-2 (24 KOs).

“Little Big Man” Mitchell, who has been working with Buddy McGirt for his past two fights, will meet Vilches at 10 p.m. EST on Showtime. In Mitchell’s corner will be his trainers Marvin Sims and Scott Buchanan, while McGirt will be in Nate Campbell’s corner Saturday. Campbell, 23-0 (21 KOs), is set for a 130-pound showdown against Joel Casamayor, 28-1 (18 KOs), in Temecula, Calif.

Mitchell, decked in a sweat suit and munching on a nutrition bar, had just got off his cell phone when he waved me in to the gym’s office. His handlers granted me 10 minutes for the interview. Here’s what Mitchell had to say:

Q: Is it hard to scout a fighter like Vilches who has fought mostly outside the U.S? Have you studied tape on him?

Mitchell: I don’t like to look at tapes of the fighters. But I do look at one or two rounds, so I saw him fight. You know, he’s a come-to guy, likes to throw a lot of punches. It looks like he has a little speed with his punches and he likes to get off his right hand a lot. My objective is to make him fight and just take control. He does have a better chance to look at me (on tape). You know, him looking at me fight somebody else and me looking at him fight somebody else doesn’t really make a difference because it’s a whole different set of circumstances when we meet. I’ll be the difficult one for him to figure out.

Q: I’ve read where Vilches says he isn’t bothered by southpaw styles. What is your response to that?

Mitchell: That’s good; I don’t want him to worry about it! I want to catch him by surprise when he gets in there. He’s going to see that it’s not just a southpaw style — it’s a southpaw style mixed with speed, power.

Q: Have you done any sparring with Nate Campbell for this fight?

Mitchell: I’ve been sparring with two Russian guys that Buddy (McGirt) brought down here. I sparred a little bit with Nate Campbell and one other guy. Nate’s a good little fighter. I learned that Nate is a great, great body puncher. He puts in good body shots. Just to get away from his looping hands, looping right hands (helps to prepare). He just catches the body a little bit more.

Q: Can you talk about the addition of Buddy McGirt to your training camp?

Mitchell: Well, Marvin Sims is my trainer. I would never get rid of Marvin. I’ve always had him from the time I started boxing. Buddy’s a guy that I brought in to be able to assist Marvin Sims, “The Rock.” I brought him in to assist him because “Rock” is getting old. Buddy’s a really good trainer and understands my style as much as “Rock” does. And I thought the combination and the way they get along also, helps a whole lot.

Q: Do you have any feelings on Buddy’s decision to work Campbell’s corner on Saturday?

Mitchell: Oh no, not at all, because I’m a team player. It’s not like I’ve had Buddy all my life and Buddy’s just my only trainer. This is a big fight for Nate and I wouldn’t expect Buddy to do anything else but go with Nate. I’ve been there before. I’ve been in the big fights. I have 53 fights and I’ve held the world title. So, there’s nothing new there to me.

Q: How is your (left) knee? When did you first injure your knee, and how is it feeling?

Mitchell: My knee is fine. My knee will never be 100 percent again. I always say that it’s about 80 to 85 percent because once something gets injured it’s never the same. Anything I do with footing, I thank God that He’s letting it work right now. And if He wants to hurt it later on, then He’ll do that. If He doesn’t, then it won’t happen. When I first got the injury, it was the first time that I was going to fight for my title (1998) and I had to lay off almost a whole year before that. And then I went and fought for the title.

Q: How did you injure the knee?

Mitchell: I hurt it in sparring. I had some surgery on it. Three days before the (Kostya) Tszyu fight (February 2001), it was bothering me, and it just collapsed in the Tszyu fight. I had a partial tear of the ACL, a partial tear of the hamstring and tore my meniscus.

Q: You’ve accomplished so much in your career. A lot of guys might call it quits now after a successful career like yours. How long do you want to stay in this?

Mitchell: My goal right now is to regain the title at 140 pounds, then move up and either get a title in the “47,” or get a title in “54.” And then I’ll retire. Then boxing, for me, myself, will be complete. And then I can go back to school and get a degree. And that’s something else I want to do.

Q: Some people say you may be overlooking Vilches.

Mitchell: You can never look past this because he’s in my way. And he’s the one I have to get through to be able to get to Tszyu. Anything can happen in a fight. And my main focus right now is (Vilches). And then after that fight everyone can come ask what’s next? Nothing will be next if I don’t get past him.

Q: Are you looking forward to fighting in Atlantic City?

Mitchell: It’s one place where I started. It’s kind of funny because I haven’t fought there in so long. It seems like it’s taking me back to where I started. I love it.

Q: How do you see the outcome of Saturday’s fight?

Mitchell: I believe in my head that I will knock him out, but I’m just going in there to win. My main thing is to win and not get hurt.

If you have questions, e-mail the Eric Rineer at [email protected].

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