Heavyweight prospect Seth Mitchell believes that he can raise the status of boxing by becoming the first American to hold the title since since 2007, when Shannon Briggs briefly wore the WBO's belt.
Unbeaten prospect Seth "Mayhem" Mitchell discussed the possibility of raising boxing's fan base by becoming America's next heavyweight titleholder, as well as the inspiration he draws from the fans he already has.
Mitchell (25-0-1, 19 knockouts) will next be in the ring on Oct. 6, facing Johnathon Banks (28-1-1, 18 KOs) at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.
Mitchell had been scheduled to face Banks before their bout was postponed as a result of Mitchell suffering a strained right hand. Promoted by Golden Boy Promotions, Mitchell will be after his 24th straight win and his 11th consecutive knockout against Banks, his last two being early-round KOs of Chazz Witherspoon and Timur Ibragimov.
A resident of Brandywine, Md., as well as a former scholarship linebacker at Michigan State, Mitchell was named Maryland's Defensive Player of the Year at Gwynn Park High in Brandywine by the Associated Press. He began boxing shortly after graduating from college with a degree in criminal justice.
Managed by Sharif Salim and trained by Andre Hunter, Mitchell is considered by many to be America's best hope at ending the country's drought of champions in a division dominated by the Ukrainian Klitschko brothers, Vitali and Wladimir.
No U.S.-born fighter has held a heavyweight title since 2007, when Shannon Briggs briefly wore the WBO's strap. In 2006, Hasim Rahman held the WBC belt while the IBF title was held by Chris Byrd.
Click here for a video interview taken during a break in Mitchell's training.
Click here for a video of Mitchell working the mitts.
RingTV.com: Looking down the road, if you are able to win the heavyweight title next year, what impact would do you anticipate that will have on your community and as well as on the boxing scene in the United States?
Seth Mitchell: Big. In Brandywine, in my hometown, I'm already a little popular and a lot of people know me. But just for them to feel like they're a part of something that big because I'm home grown.
That would be big. I hear people talk about it all the time. People write me messages and you talk about not only how I carry myself inside of the ring but also outside of the ring.
They say that I make them feel like they're part of something and that I make them feel as if they're winners. So when I get those inboxes on Twitter and on Facebook, it makes me feel good.
I feel like I'm doing it, but not only that I'm doing it, but that I'm doing it the right way. You know me, you know my character. You know my nature. I'm about my business in the ring.
But I think that there's a time and place for everything, and my character and my morals and the way that I carry myself are all high on my list. So when people say positive things to me, that really means a lot to me.
It makes me want to set an example and to do it for my family as well. So winning the title would be big, especially in the heavyweight division. They say that the heavyweight division is boxing.
Right now, you've got the smaller weight divisions carrying boxing, and they're doing a helluva job because even though I think that there are a lot of good fights that can be made in the heavyweight division, being honest, the heavyweight division, right now, isn't that exciting.
That's because the Klitschko brothers are running the division, and people don't consider them to have an exciting style. But they're good at what they do. Until someone can dethrone them, that's going to remain the way that it goes.
RingTV.com: Do you plan on going back to fight at your alma mater Michigan State University in the near future?
SM: Absolutely. We've already been talking about that. It hasn't come to fruition yet, but hopefully, that can happen sooner rather than later. I would love to go back and fight at the Breslin Center or maybe even have a fight in the football stadium.
I think that that would be a good look and I think that it would draw thousands. I think that it would sell out. It's something that Golden Boy and the people from Michigan State have addressed.
We haven't quite come to terms yet. But it will happen. It will happen. If I keep on doing what I'm doing, then it will definitely happen.
RingTV.com: Do you have any ideas on how can boxing can generate more of a fan following in the United States?
SM: I think that once I continue to get more visibility and as long as I continue to win and continue to make a name like I have in the fashion that I have done so far in my career, I think that's going to do me just fine.
I need to get more exposure as far as doing more community-related things. I think that all of that will help. But one thing that I won't do is compromise or deviate from my character.
That's very important for me. I'm very confident, but I'm not a bragger or I'm not a talker. I just show up and perform when it's time to perform...I've got to get those Twitter followers up (@SethMayhem48). I just cracked 5,000 a week ago.
RingTV.com: Are you doing anything special in this training camp in preparing for Banks that might differ from past training camps?
SM: We're definitely doing some things differently, but I'm not going to tell what we're doing. But we're working on some things in camp that are different in preparation for Banks.
Hopefully, you will be able to see the little tweaks and adjustments that I've made for Banks as well as in my overall game come Oct. 6. But I won't give away our little secrets.
RingTV.com: How do you maintain or manage your weight between fights, and what is your typical diet for training camp?
SM: I've pretty much eaten pretty much what I've wanted to eat when I'm not in training. I stay away from fried foods pretty much all of the time.
My walking around weight is right around 255 or 256, and then, once I get there, I start to cut back. But two months out or seven to eight weeks before my fight, I start to cut back.
I don't eat a lot of carbs at all. I eat a lot of protein and a lot of fruit and lot of vegetables. I stay away from red meats and for the most part just eat chicken, fish and tuna.
I really concentrate on eating five or six small meals a day. Also, when I'm about six weeks out, I drink a lot of water. I'm drinking a minimum of a gallon of water a day.
RingTV.com: Can you discuss your relationship with Andre Hunter and what he brings to the table as a trainer?
SM: That's been very important. I'm proud to say that I've been with my trainer as well as my manager Sharif Salim since Day One. I was with Dre since a week into the gym, I believe.
For me, I'm a family man and I'm a loyal guy at the same time. A father and a husband. If my trainer or whomever on my team wasn't doing their part, then that's a different story.
But I think that Andre is a great trainer, but he's not only my trainer, he's my friend. One thing that I know is that he cares about me.
And the people I surround myself with and the people I call my team members, they're my friends and they care about Seth Mitchell. They cared about Seth Mitchell even before boxing, and I think that's very important.
It just allows me to focus on boxing and that's all. I don't have to worry about any member of my team doing anything that isn't about what we're supposed to do as a team.
When people say, "oh, you need to get another trainer," or this or that, you know, that's crazy man. It all boils down to the fact that he knows the game and he's been a trainer for 17 years.
Everybody has to start somewhere, so hopefully, we can continue to climb this ladder and reach the pinnacle of success in this boxing business together.
Photo by Delane Rouse, Hogan Photos, Golden Boy Promotions
Photos by Tom Hogan, Hogan Photos, Golden Boy Promotions
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org