Seth Mitchell: The Future of Boxing's Heavyweight Division?
By Alec Kohut, Max Boxing (Dec 10, 2011) Special to Doghouse Boxing (Photo © Tom Hogan - Hoganphotos/ Golden Boy Promotions)
Seth Mitchell (Left) - Timur Ibragimov (Right)
On his 30th birthday, music critic Jon Landau said of a very young Bruce Springsteen after a nightclub performance in the early-‘70s, “Tonight, I saw rock and roll's future and its name is Bruce Springsteen.
Promoted by Golden Boy Promotions from the start of his career and signing with Al Haymon last year, it was only a matter of time before heavyweight Seth Mitchell would make his HBO debut. This inevitable event happens this Saturday in Washington DC as Mitchell will face Timur Ibragimov of Uzbekistan. The fight will be the opener on HBO’s “World Championship Boxing” card featuring the main event of Amir Khan vs. DC’s Lamont Peterson.
Mitchell has established himself as one of the better American heavyweight prospects in years, mowing through a list of what I call the “usual suspects.” Fighters such as Derek Bryant, Evans Quinn and Charles Davis lie in the wake of the now 23-0-1 (17) Mitchell, who’s riding a streak of eight straight knockouts. Having appeared on Solo Boxeo, ESPN and Showtime, it’s time for Mitchell’s formal introduction to American fight fans.
What can one expect from Mitchell? He stays in excellent shape and is not a heavyweight with a sizable weight range. Mitchell walks around at the 250-pound range and fights between 240 and 245. This is not a fat heavyweight; Mitchell sports a physique reminiscent of his days as linebacker at Michigan State. He possesses the talents that are now far too rare among American heavyweights: a good jab, good footwork, power with both hands and a commitment to working an opponent’s body.
The tools, both tangible and intangible, are present. Now Mitchell needs rounds- good rounds- and a good, stiff test. His eight knockouts in 2010 and 2011 limited him to only 18 rounds over the past two years. While he admits to being “buzzed” by some punches, Mitchell has never taken a hard clean shot from a top heavyweight. To use a college football analogy, he’s looked good in his “out of conference” schedule.
Timur Ibragimov represents Mitchell’s best opponent thus far at 30-3-1 (16) and has never been stopped. But as Larry Merchant is wont to say, “He’s one big win away from having a big win,” unless, of course, you count a decision over the aging Oliver McCall last year as a big win. Yet Ibragimov is quick point out that he believes he did beat Jean Marc Mormeck last year in that split-decision loss. “I don’t know what fight the judges were watching.” Ibragimov told Maxboxing.
At age 36, Ibragimov knows this may be his best and last chance to make a splash in the heavyweight division. “It’s exactly that,” he admitted. And while other heavyweights turned down to chance to face Mitchell on the big stage of HBO, Ibragimov jumped at the opportunity. While acknowledging that Mitchell is a strong, tough fighter, the Uzbek feels he can use Mitchell’s inexperience in his favor. “I know he doesn’t have the experience I have and I get stronger as the fight goes on.” He feels his best chance is to avoid trouble early and take Mitchell into the deep, unfamiliar territory of the late rounds.
Ibragimov has actually been in the gym with Mitchell as they both sparred with Tony Thompson (Ibragimov actually faced Thompson professionally in February of 2007, losing unanimously), so Ibragimov will climb through the ropes with some knowledge of the up-and-coming Maryland heavyweight. He also said that having gained experience dealing with the atmosphere of big fights, he is better able to focus on the task at hand and not get distracted, as he was in his loss to Calvin Brock.
Mitchell, on the other hand, is taking nothing for granted. He knows that he needs to start putting the whole package together and cannot expect to fall back on his superior athleticism any longer, as he could early in his career. From the moment he was scheduled to make this HBO debut, originally scheduled for August 27th in San Jose, Mitchell has trained harder than I’d ever seen him train. In a visit to his gym last Friday on his final day of sparring, I walked in just after Mitchell had completely rearranged the nose of a sparring partner, painting the canvas and gym floor with a fresh coat of blood.
Perhaps Ibragimov is making the best move of his career. Mitchell is largely untested and it remains to be seen if he can adjust to an opponent during a fight and how Mitchell will behave when he faces adversity inside the squared circle.
I hope Ibragimov does give Mitchell some good rounds and I hope Mitchell begins to show the promise many of us believe is there. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I want Seth Mitchell to become the next great American heavyweight. Over the past two years, I’ve become very closely acquainted with him and his team. Mitchell is a very good man and very easy to cheer for.
I compiled a 20-minute video about Mitchell that can be seen at Maxboxing’s You Tube channel here:
It may be the only boxing video ever that includes Herman Cain and Beavis & Butthead.
In talking with Mitchell over the past couple weeks, it’s safe to say he is mentally prepared for his coming-out party. He has preached patience and not being reckless in the ring. He’s looking as fit as I’ve even seen, likely adding a few pounds to come in at 242. Mitchell plans to stick to the “textbook,” as he calls it. Jab, work the body, move his feet and put together his punches. Boxing 101, it’s still a class most American heavyweights haven’t passed, much less enrolled in.
Mitchell expects to be the first to stop Ibragimov, a feeling to which I concur. He is ready for the big stage. His hand speed combined with his power should force a halt to the action in around the sixth or seventh round. I’ll say, officially, midway through the seventh.
When you combine his extraordinary physical gifts with a work ethic and desire rarely seen in any walk of life, the recipe is there for the next great American heavyweight.
Keep your eyes open tonight. We just might see the future of the heavyweight division in America. His name is Seth Mitchell.

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