SETH MITCHELL: ‘I’M NOT A WEIGHT-LIFTER, I’M A BOXER’
Prior to their heavyweight bout, counterpart, Timur Ibragimov (30-4-1, 16 KOs), of Uzbekistan, acknowledged the athleticism of heavyweight prospect Seth Mitchell, (23-0-1, 17 KOs), of Brandywine, Md., an outstanding high school and collegiate football player.
But Ibragimov cited the fact that Mitchell never has gone six rounds only four times, and eight rounds just once as reasons that he felt Mitchell was in over his head.
“This is my opinion about what everybody is saying. Of course he’s strong. Everybody is saying that he’s strong. But this is not a competition to pick up the weights. This is not a weight-lifting competition. We’re doing boxing, and I’ve done my boxing all of my life,” said Ibragimov.
“What he doesn’t have is experience, and this is for sure. So this is going to be a really, really difficult night for him, because he’s never gone past five or six rounds. For my last year, I’ve have fought Oliver McCall and I’ve had a lot of fights go the distance. That’s what I think that this is going to be a very, very tough night for him.”
Mitchell, of course, proved Ibragimov wrong, bludgeoning him into submission with a series of powerful, overhand rights that were set up by his jab on the way to a second-round stoppage.
During the post-fight press conference, Mitchell had the final say.
“I’m not a weight-lifter. I’m a boxer. I mean, a lot of people they think that because I come from football, and I’ve said this numerous times before, that everybody is blessed with a particular talent. I truly believe that athletics is my talent. Not only do I think that I’m blessed with the athletic ability, the size, the strength and the speed,” said Mitchell.
“But I don’t take that for granted. I am a sponge. I try to learn and I work hard. When I get into the ring with my opponents, I surprise them. They look at me, and I’m strong, but they underestimate my athletic ability and my speed and my boxing skills.”
Ibragimov was stopped for the first time in his career by Mitchell, who earned his 22nd consecutive win and his 17th knockout during that run.
“I definitely wanted to be the first to stop him. But I didn’t want to go out there and open myself up. He caught me with a couple of shots, but you’re going to get hit, and that’s a part of boxing. I was able to adjust. My trainer, Andre Hunter, put together a great gameplan. We had to elminate Timur’s right hand. When I watched the tape of him by myself, I went back to my trainer and he said, ‘What did you see?” said Mitchell.
“I said that he died out in the later rounds and was open for the uppercut, and then we watched it together and we saw that he can’t get away from the right hand. As I was watching it with him, I saw that he was open for the right hand all day. So we worked on just going to the body and finishing. The ending of the fight was two consecutive right hands. This was a big step for me. This was the level that I want to be on.”
DE LA HOYA CALLS MITCHELL ‘THE FUTURE OF THE HEAVYWEIGHT DIVISION’
Although the heavyweight division is dominated by the Klitschko brothers, Wladimir Klitschko (56-3, 49 KOs) and Vitali Klitschko (43-2, 40 KOs), Mitchell, nicknamed, “Mayhem,” demonstrated why he is considered by some to be America’s best chance at ending its heavyweight championship drought.
“I want to first start by talking about what I call the future of the heavyweight division. Seth Mitchell proved once again, and showed the public what he is all about,” said De La Hoya, during the post-fight press conference. “Seth Mitchell had a tremendous night tonight, and we’ll go down and sit down with his team relatively quickly what his next move is.”
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.
“Seth told me that he wants to fight right away, so that’s actually a great thing for boxing, because we’re desperately waiting for that next American heavyweight champion of the world, and we definitely believe that we have him in our stable,” said De La Hoya.
“Seth has the power, the speed and the charisma and he once again proved that he’s a force to be reckoned with in the heavyweight divison. We’re very proud of Seth, and what he represents and who is as a young man outside of the ring. Inside of the ring, he is an animal. We’re looking forward to putting him in with the top 10.”
MITCHELL ON THE KLITSCHKOS
“There’s a couple of more fights before I’m ready to challenge the Klitschkos. The Klitschos, they stand alone in the heavyweight division, but I truly believe that right now, I mix in with any other heavyweight out there. The Klitschkos don’t have the most exciting style of fighting,” said Mitchell.
“But they’re giants, at 6-foot-6, and, 6-7, and they used their God-given talents, and they use them well. Right now, I think that I need about three or four more fights, and then, good Lord willing, if I don’t have any setbacks, in early 2013, I’ll be able to catch them and hopefully get the job done.”
Mitchell wants to fight again in March.
“I would like to be an active fighter,” said Mitchell. “At least three times a year.”
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org