On Saturday night in Bristol, Pennsylvania, heavyweight Chazz Witherspoon stopped Michael Marrone in two rounds, to notch his fifth straight victory since getting stopped by Seth Mitchell in 2012.
Chazz Witherspoon is the second cousin of 1980s era belt holder Tim Witherspoon. The older Witherspoon held both the WBC and WBA versions of the heavyweight title in the first half of the 1980s, although only for brief stretches both times. He gave Larry Holmes all he could handle, losing by split decision to Holmes in 1983, when the legend was still not far from the height of his powers.
The younger Witherspoon might best be categorized as a stepping stone for contenders. At 6’4″ and 230 pounds, he has very good size and fights with and intelligent and athletic style. He easily beats opponents like Marrone, who was 21-5 coming into the bout, but had been knocked out four times by fringe contenders like Francesco Pianeta and Shannon Briggs, as well as tough journeymen like DaVarryl Williamson and Guillermo Jones. Marrone hadn’t defeated an opponent with a winning record since 2007.
Witherspoon has beaten some good, experienced professionals, such as Ty Cobb, Adam Richards and Galen Brown. But he failed to go the distance in all three of his losses. Chris Arreola was beating him up so badly in Round 3 in 2008 that Witherspoon’s corner panicked and entered the ring early, causing a DQ. Tony Thompson stopped Witherspoon in 2009. He had Mitchell in trouble early, but ended up getting in Round 3.
Withspoon is 34, but heavyweights with his size and style often age and even sometimes manage to get better in their mid 30s. He aleady has another stay-busy eight rounder in October. It’s not impossible to imagine that Witherspoon might beat somebody in the top 50 to 60 and then get a last shot at a true contender.
While it’s unlikely he’ll ever have the kind of success his older cousin enjoyed, but there is still the opportunity for him to have another relevant fight.