Heavyweight prospect Seth Mitchell of Brandywined, MD., will face his most difficult challenge to date when he takes on Timur Ibragimov of Uzbekistan on the HBO-televised undercard of a main event featuring WBA/IBF junior welterweight beltholder Amir Khan defending against Lamont Peterson at the Washington Convention Center on Dec. 10.
Khan (26-1, 18 KOs) and Peterson (29-1-1, 15 KOs) are bringing a fight to Washington, D.C., for the first time since Kevin McBride ended Mike Tyson’s career with a sixth-round stoppage in June of 2005.
The 36-year-old Ibragimov (30-3-1, 16 KOs) is coming off a split-decision loss to former cruiserweight titleholder Jean Marc Mormeck (36-4, 22 KOs) in December, ending Ibragimov’s winning streak of nine straight wins, including three stoppages. Mormeck will challenge WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight titleholder Wladimir Klitschko (56-3, 49 KOs) on Dec. 10.
Ibragimov also has lost to title contenders Calvin Brock and Tony Thompson by unanimous decision in June of 2006, and, February of 2007, respectively.
Ibragimov’s biggest win was perhaps by unanimous decision in June of last year over Oliver McCall, whose fifth-round knockout earned the vacant WBC title over Lennox Lewis in February of 1997.
The 29-year-old Mitchell is a graduate of Gwynn Park High, where he played football as a star linebacker and was named Maryland’s Defensive Player of the Year as a senior.
Nicknamed, “Mayhem,” Mitchell is after his 22nd consecutive victory, his 17th knockout during that time, and his 10th straight stoppage win. Mitchell is considered by some to be America’s best chance at ending its heavyweight championship drought.
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 of Baltimore held the WBC belt while the IBF title was held by Chris Byrd.
Puerto Rican-American John Ruiz was the first Latino to have a belt when he became the WBA champ in 2005.
Vitali is riding an 11-fight winning streak that includes nine stoppages and is the WBC titleholder, while Wladimir owns the WBA, WBO and IBF belts and currently is riding a winning streak of 14 consecutive bouts, with 10 knockouts during that time.
TAVORIS CLOUD-ZSOLT ERDEI PART OF DOUBLE-HEADER
IBF light heavyweight titleholder Tavoris Cloud will defend his belt in a clash of unbeatens opposite Hungarian Zsolt Erdei in a Showtime-televised double-header also featuring two-time Olympic gold medalist Guillermo Rigondeaux pursuing the ninth win of his burgeoning career when he meets undefeated WBA junior featherweight titleholder Rico Ramos of Los Angeles on Dec. 31.
The bout between Cloud (23-0, 19 KOs) and Erdei (33-0, 19 KOs), which will take place likely in Anaheim, Calif., was initially reported by BoxingScene.com.
The 29-year-old Cloud will be making the fourth defense of the crown he earned by unanimous decision over former titleholder Clinton Woods in August of 2009.
Since then, Cloud has decisioned former titleholder Glen Johnson and contender Fulgencio Zuniga, and is coming off an eighth-round stoppage of Yusaf Mack in June, the same month during which the 37-year-old Erdei won his last bout by sixth-round knockout of former WBA super middleeight beltholder Byron Mitchell.
The 31-year-old Rigondeaux (8-0, 6 KOs) won the WBA’s interim belt by split-decision in November over Ricardo Cordoba on the undercard of Manny Pacquiao’s unanimous decision over Antonio Margarito for the WBC’s since-vacated junior middleweight crown. His most recent win was a first-round knockout of Willie Casey (12-1, 8 KOs) in March.
The 24-year-old Ramos (20-0, 11 KOs) is coming off a seventh-round knockout of former WBA titleholder Akifumi Shimoda (23-3-1, 10 KOs) in July.
Considered one of the world’s all-time great amateur boxers in Cuba before he defected to the United States, Rigondeaux established a new boxing record by defeating Cordoba for a title in only his seventh professional bout.
Rigondeaux eclipsed the mark by Leon Spinks, who was 7-0-1, with five knockouts after dethroning Muhammad Ali for the WBC and WBA heavyweight crowns in his eighth professional fight in February of 1978.
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com