Saturday night at The Playground in Atlantic City, long-time heavyweight mainstay Chazz Witherspoon returns to action against Nick Guivas of Kansas. While Witherspoon hardly qualifies as a top contender, he’s an experienced and athletic big man who figures in the division as at least a gatekeeper.
To me, he’s one of the sport’s more intriguing fighters. The second cousin of former champion Tim Witherspoon, he was a member of the National Honor Society in high school and turned down a few athletic scholarships to attend St. Josephs on an academic scholarship. He took up boxing in college and won a Pennsylvania State Gold Gloves championship. He was a runner-up at the 2004 Nationals and was an alternate on the 2004 Olympic team.
As a professional, Witherspoon won his first 23 professional fights before facing Chris Arreola in June 2008, in a battle of undefeated heavyweights. He lost to Arreola by DQ in Round 3, when his corner entered the ring before the bell had rung. Witherspoon had just been dropped by a hard punch, though, and was in bad trouble.
After three more wins by stoppage, Witherspoon lost by Round 9 TKO to Tony Thompson in May 2009. At the time, Thompson was probably the top U.S. heavyweight. Witherspoon also lost to rising star Seth Mitchell in April 2012 by Round 3 TKO. Witherspoon hurt Mitchell badly early in the fight, but couldn’t finish him off.
After the loss to Mitchell, Witherspoon took off more than a year. Since returning to action in 2014, he’s won three straight by KO, most recently stopping journeyman Galen Brown last April.
Witherspoon is a guy with a degree in pharmaceutical marketing, which is a very lucrative field, so one has to assume he’s motivated here purely by the hunger to compete and make one last push for a title. There’s a lot of movement in the division right now and Wladimir Klitschko is likely nearing the end of his career, so the opportunity should be there for some significant fights for Witherspoon, if he can stay in the win column.
Nick Guivas should be an opponent he can beat. At 36, he’s fought just 15 fights, with a record of 11-2-2. His most notable opponent, Bowie Tupou, knocked him out in three rounds in March of 2014. But Guivas has knocked out nine opponents himself, so clearly he can bang a little bit.
This is not a major fight by any stretch. But it’s worth having on the radar for any heavyweight boxing fans.