Lem Satterfield

Lem’s latest: Petersons give back; Mitchell recalls origin

SETH MITCHELL RECALLS HIS ORIGIN INTO BOXING

The opening HBO-televised bout features 29-year-old heavyweight prospect Seth Mitchell (23-0-1, 17 KOs), of Brandywine, Md., 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.

Mitchell will face his most difficult opponent to date in 36-year-old Timur Ibragimov (30-3-1, 16 KOs), of Uzbekistan, who is coming off a split-decision loss to former cruiserweight titleholder Jean Marc Mormeck  (36-4, 22 KOs) in December that ended Ibragimov’s winning streak of nine straight victories, including three stoppages.

Ibragimov’s biggest win was perhaps his unanimous decision in June of last year over Oliver McCall, whose fifth-round knockout of Lennox Lewis earned him the vacant WBC title in February of 1997.

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Mitchell grew up with little knowledge of his father, who separated from his mother, Jeanette Mitchell, when he was 5, and whom he met three times before the man died in 2006. When Mitchell was 12, he and his family moved from Virginia Beach, Va., to Brandywine, to live with his grandparents.

“When we moved to Brandywine, there were 11 of us living in our grandparents’ house, but there was a lot of love there,” said Mitchell. “If we hadn’t moved, I never would have met the influential people who have helped me to get where I am today.”

At Gwynn Park, Mitchell was an outstanding football player, totaling more than 150 tackles, seven sacks and an amazing six interceptions as a high school senior on the way to leading the Yellow Jackets to a state runner-up finish and earning All-Metro honors for The Washington Post.

As a scholarship player at Michigan State, Mitchell averaged 10.6 tackles and ranked second on the team in 2003. A chronic knee injury prematurely ended Mitchell’s junior year at Michigan and plagued him for long after that.

“I was not at peace with myself at first. I had to go home, regroup with my mom, the Daniels [Mitchell's godparents] and my mentor, Maurice Banks, to figure out what I was going to do next,” said Mitchell, who decided to end his football career even as he already had earned a degree in criminal justice.

“I knew that I was going to be alright. I had a college, but I was not ready to walk away from sports completely.”

Mitchell recalled his introduction into the sport, which was sparked by his watching the professional debut of current Baltimore Ravens’ safety Tom Zbikowski at Madison Square Garden in June of 2006.

Mitchell went 9-1 as an amateur, with all of his victories being by knockout, and signed with Golden Boy Promotions after his first professional bout in 2006.

Although the heavyweight division is dominated by the Klitschko brothers, Vitali Klitschko (43-2, 40 KOs) and Wladimir Klitschko (56-3, 49 KOs), Mitchell, nicknamed, “Mayhem,” 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, the first Latino to win a heavyweight belt, held the WBA title from 2001-2005.

Vitali, 40, is riding an 11-fight winning streak that includes nine stoppages and is the WBC titleholder, while Wladimir, 35, owns the WBA, WBO and IBF belts and currently is riding a winning streak of 14 consecutive bouts, with 10 knockouts during that time.

 

Photo by Tom Hogan, Hogan Photos, Golden Boy Promotions

Photo by Ray Kasprowicz, Fightwire Images

Photo by Tom Hogan, Hogan Photos, Golden Boy Promotions

 Lem Satterfield can be reached at lemuel.satterfield@gmail.com

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