Seth Mitchell: ďI want people to continue to think that I canít go the distance and that theyíre going to take me into deep waters because that will just cause problems for themĒ

by Geoffrey Ciani (Exclusive Interview by Jenna J & Geoffrey Ciani) - This weekís 153rd edition of On the Ropes Boxing Radio featured an exclusive interview with rising American heavyweight Seth ďMayhemĒ Mitchell (24-0-1, 18 KOs), who is coming off an impressive second round stoppage victory against ring veteran Timur Ibragimov (30-4-1, 16 KOs) on December 10. Mitchell spoke about his victory, discussed his future plans, and also shared his views on the current heavyweight champions Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko. Here are some excerpts from that interview:

Regarding how he evaluates his performance in his second round stoppage victory against Timur Ibragimov:

ďAs far as my performance, I thought that it was my best performance to date as far as the stage that I was on and my opponent, and his record, and the people that heís fought. After reviewing the fight there are a couple of things I saw that I could have done better as far as using angles and moving my head a little bit more. Not to take anything away from performance, overall I thought I did a good job as far as the stage. I thought it was good.Ē

On what he feels allowed him to become the first boxer to stop Ibragimov inside the distance:

ďI think a lot of heavyweights or my opponents when I get in the ring, when they look at my physique they know that Iím going to be strong but they underestimate my athletic ability and my equipment. I think a lot of the shots they donít see coming. They catch them off guard, and my pressure with the way I cut the ring off, I think that surprises them. Theyíre not able to handle my speed and pressure throughout the course of a fight. I definitely wanted to stop him, but I didnít want to go out there too reckless. I just wanted to stay behind my jab, and I thought if I did stop him the knockout was going to come around round seven or eight. You know he ran into the left hook, and then I caught him with the right hand and dazed him, and then I just kept following up, and hurt him and got him out of there.Ē

Regarding how he felt to get the opportunity to showcase his talents for the HBO audience:

ďI felt great. You know thatís the stage that I want to be on. A lot of people ask me about the pressure. Is it too much pressure? I tell them nobody puts more pressure on me than myself. I believe in myself. I donít underestimate any opponents that I step into the ring with, but to be on HBO, to be fighting at homeóit was just exciting. I wanted to seize the moment. I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity, and I knew that I was on the HBO co-main event because of what Iíve been doing, and thatís been putting on exciting fights and as a heavyweight, showing speed, power, and aggressiveness. I knew thatís what people wanted to see. My main thing was I definitely wanted to win, but I wanted to make a statement and I believe I did Saturday night.Ē

On how he first became involved in the sport of boxing:

ďItís an amazing story. I never thought about boxing. I was a casual boxing fan. For the people that donít know, I played football at Michigan State University. When I was healthy I made a lot of noise, but I had a lot of problems with my left knee throughout the duration of my stay at Michigan State. I was circulating my resume. I had retired from football. I called it quits because of my knee. I was circulating my knee, and one day I was watching the 2006 season of The Contender and a newsflash ESPN highlight came on of Tom Zbikowski, who was also at the time a Notre Dame safety and we actually played against each other. They showed his highlights of him fighting at Madison Square Garden on the Cotto under card, and that just inspired me to start boxing because I actually played against him. I was like, if he can do it I can do it, and I set my heart on becoming heavyweight champion of the world that day. If it wasnít for him, because I actually played against him when he played collegiate level football, you probably wouldnít be talking to me right now because I had no dreams or aspirations for boxing at all.Ē

On what he views as the most difficult aspect of the transition from football to boxing:

ďTo learn how to relax in the ring and to learn how to roll with the punches, that was the main thing. Getting used to it being an individual sport when Iíve always played team sportsóbasketball and football in high school, and then football in college. You know it was something that I missed. I missed the team comradery. You know what Iím saying? Itís a little scary when you get in that ring by yourself, but learning how to relax. Playing middle linebacker, when you went to take on those fullbacks and things of that nature, and take on those linemen, you had to be tensed up. You had to be able to absorb that impact, but with boxing you got to be loose. Learning how to lift, you know as a football player I lifted a lot for power, and as a boxer I lift a lot more for endurance. I donít lift any heavy weights at all. If I canít lift it 25 or 30 times I donít touch it. Iím letting my muscles elongate. I was more bulked up when I was a football player, but in the ring it was learning to take punches and learning how to relax and how. That was then most difficult thing for me.Ē

His views on whether or not a lot of people with the potential to make good heavyweight boxers are more inclined to play football instead:

ďI wouldnít necessarily say that thatís true. Athletics alone just wonít get you there. I believe that athletics is definitely my talent and my gift that God has given me. You have to work hard. I think you have to have that x-factor, and I believe that I have it. I believe itís a combination of everythingóme having the talent, me having the skills, the power, the speed. But Iím not thinking that I know it all, with me being a sponge, and me wanting to learn, and me wanting to be successful, and me not thinking I canít be stopped and I canít be knocked out. I believe on any given day it could be your day to lose, but itís just my humility. I think itís a combination of everything, and just because youíre athletic I donít think that necessarily translates into being a good boxer. I think itís a combination of everything.Ē

On whether he believes he would have had any stamina issues going the distance with Ibragimov given the fact he has not often gone late into fights:

ďAbsolutely not! If you came down and spent a day or a week watching my train, conditioning wouldnít even be a question. This is what I do to provide support and financial stability for my familyófor my wife and two children. So for me to get into the ring and not be prepared to go twelve rounds, not ten, is just a disgrace to me, to the sport, and to my family. This is what I do! This is my job. Iím going to be prepared to go the distance. I train very hard. My trainer, we go through a lot of different techniques as far as conditioning. So Iím never worried about conditioning, even though I havenít went the distance in my fights in awhile. Iím definitely prepared to go the distance, and I want people to continue to think that I canít go the distance and that theyíre going to take me into deep waters because that will just cause problems for them. But to answer your question, I had no problems going ten rounds. If you look at my punch stats, I threw `130 punches in less than two rounds and wasnít breathing hard. Conditioning is no concern for me.Ē

Regarding how he first started working with trainer Andre Hunter and how the working relationship as trainer-fighter is working out:

ďI started with him from the beginning, going back to how I got involved with boxing. After I saw Tom Zbikowski when I decided to box, I called back home to my high school coach Maurice Banks, who was like a mentor to me, and I told him Iím serious about this boxing. Do you know of anybody that you could introduce me to, to get my foot in the door? And he introduced me to my manager Sharif Salim, and by me knowing Coach Banksí character I didnít have to question anything about Mr. Salim. I knew he would never introduce me to anyone that would harm me in any way. So I linked up with Mr. Salin and he chose a gym that was close by. It wasnít a gym that I knew about. I just said okay. Iím going to be driving to the gym so I didnít want to have to be traveling far. So we went to Old School. Thatís where I started boxing and from there I linked up with Andre Hunter after my first week in the gym, and our team has been together ever since. Theyíre my trainers and my managers, but theyíre my friends. I know they have my best interests at heart. Theyíre good people. I can call and talk to him and it doesnít even have to be about boxing. We go out to eat sometimes and we donít even bring boxing up. He knows me to a tee. He knows some days Iím training hard and I might be going to the gym, and Iíll be saying to myself damn! I wish I didnít have to do this certain drill today, because itís like an excruciating drill for me and it tires me out when Iím already tired. I might go in there and heíll be like, okay weíre not going to do this today because you worked hard yesterday and your boxy needs rest. He knows when to push me and he knows when to layoff, so we just have a great rapport. I mean itís just great to have him in my corner.Ē

His views on how much he has improved as a boxer during the course of the last year:

ďI think I have improved tremendously. When I talk to my manager you always hear learning curve. You might stay stagnant for a little bit, and then like in four months I might come back to the gym and be like hey coach, I just hit another learning curve. I canít explain why or how, but I can feel it in the way Iím shadow boxing, and in the way Iím just throwing different feints and things of that nature. When I say that this is my gift, I truly believe it is. I work hard. I try to be a sponge. I watch a lot of different fighters to pick up little techniques and little mannerisms that they do. Okay I like it. Why is he feinting this way? Okay! Heís feinting to set up this. Heís feinting his right hand to throw the left hook, and things of that nature, little subtle things that I try to pick up. A lot of people see me and they think that Iím just a brawler. They think that all I can do is that I got good punching power, but my hardest fights are in the gym sparring and most of that comes with Tony Thompson. Iíve been sparring with Tony Thompson since about six months into my fighting career, and I definitely have learned a lot from him. Getting hit upside the head by him is the best way to learn. My grandma used to play cards and used to gamble for money, and I used to say, ĎGrandma, can I play?í and she said, ĎThe best way to learn how to play is when youíre putting your money up there and youíre losing your moneyí. So the best way for me is learning with Tony Thompson in the ring. That experience is invaluable man. I can fight backing up. Even if you watch the fight, Ibragimov tried to press me a little bit so I had to adjust a little bit and I could fight backing up or going forward. I just think I bring a lot to the table, but a lot of people donít get to see it. But I think they saw a little bit of it on Saturday night because of the stage I was on.Ē

Regarding which boxers in the game today he admires most and why:

ďI like a lot of fighters. My favorite fighter is Miguel Cotto. Why? Because I think he handles himself impeccably inside and outside of the ring. You know Iím big on character and morals, and I think he just exemplifies that. He doesnít talk trash, and at the same time heís very confident, heís not cocky, and heís very serious about his craft and heís all business. I think I have a lot of those attributes. Donít get me wrong. I believe in myself and I believe Iím going to win each and every fight when I step in that ring, but I like when other people give me praises instead of it coming from my mouth. At the same time, Iím very confident in my abilities. I donít talk a lot of trash. I just go out there and do work, and try to entertain the fans. I think Floyd Mayweather is the best fighter hands down! When I watch him, I admire what he does in the ring. But Miguel Cotto is my favorite fighter for that reasonóhow he conducts himself in the ring and outside of the ring.Ē

His views on heavyweight champions Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko and how long he believes it will take to be ready for one of the brothers:

ďI think that they are great fighters! I mean they might not, and I say this a lot, the might not have the most exciting fighting styles but they use their God-given attributesótheir height and their poweróto the best of their ability. They fight very tall and theyíre good! You got to respect them. Everybody knows what they have to do to get in there and beat them, but itís not a coincidence that when people get in there with them they canít do what they want to do. Theyíre good! A lot of people say the Klitschkos man, theyíre sorry. Hey! You can call them what you want, but my thing is donít talk about themóbeat them! I think if I continue to progress, I donít think Iím ready to fight the Klitschkos right now but I think I need about four or five more fights. Sometime in the first half of 2013, if I get that call hopefully my trainer and I will put together a great game plan and I can go in there and execute it. Win, lose, or draw, if I ever get that opportunity, Iím a fighter! Iím not going to run around. Iím a fighter! Thatís what I do. I think the Klitschkos, hey! Theyíre good! You canít knock them. Just beat them.Ē

On whether he believes he would have a better chance against Wladimir Klitschko due to the fact Vitali is widely perceived as the tougher and more durable of the two:

ďYou know, I mean think of them bring different things to the table. I think the younger brother definitely hits harder. The older brother, I think heís a little tougher and he poses more of a threat because he will bang with you a little bit more, but he opens himself up more. He throws uppercuts, he throws body shots, whereas the younger Klitschko has better balance, he moves better on his legs, and he keeps his distance better, but all you really have to worry about is his jab and his straight right hand. But the older brother, I think heíll get in there and heíll mix it up more. He throws punches from different angles, so you have different things that you have to be weary of when you fight either of the Klitschko brothers. I wouldnít say one is easier to fight than the other.Ē

Regarding what he would like to say to all of his fans and supporters:

ďI just want to thank everybody for their support. If theyíre looking for somebody that fits the part where theyíre going to put on exciting fights, thatís going to let their hands go, and is going to bring excitement back to the heavyweight divisionóI think I definitely fit that bill. Somebody thatís humble, thatís grounded, I fit that bill and Iím just excited and Iím just happy for what Iím doing and for what the future holds. Iím going to continue to work hard. I just ask that they continue to keep me in their prayers and Iíll do the same. I want to thank you all for having me on and giving me a chance to be heard so people can hear my voice. People can follow me on Twitter @SethMayhem48 ď


For those interested in listening to the Seth Mitchell interview in its entirety, it begins approximately one hour and ten minutes into the program.



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Article posted on 21.12.2011

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