Once-beaten heavyweight prospect Seth “Mayhem” Mitchell received a mostly positive reception from fans during his appearance at last month’s Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Canelo Alvarez press conference in Washington, D.C. in the wake of his unanimous decision victory over Johnathon Banks on June 22.
The triumph by Mitchell (26-1-1, 19 knockouts), of Brandywine, Md., near D.C., avenged November’s second-round stoppage loss to Banks (29-2-1, 19 KOs), who rose from a second-round knockdown and managed to wobble Mitchell twice in the third round as well as later on in the fight.
“Most people where saying ‘Congrats,’ and, ‘Way to go out there and get that win,” recalled Mitchell, who turned 31 in May. “They were like, ‘You fought smart.’ They didn’t say that it was an exciting fight, but they were like, ‘You did what you had to do to win’ and ‘Rest up, get better.’ When I got brought up on stage, I heard some boos and stuff.
“But you’re going to get that. You can’t please everybody, so that doesn’t bother me. But I know one thing: I did what I had to do to, figuratively speaking, keep the lights on for the next fight. I’m not too concerned about it. I know what type of fighter I am. I’m going to continue to learn and get better. I don’t have a big head that I avenged this loss. Hey, this was just a hurdle that I created by losing that first fight, and I had to do what I needed to do to win the fight, and now, it’s on to the next one.”
Just last weekend, Mitchell’s sometime sparring partner, Tony “The Tiger” Thompson rose from a second-round knockdown to secure a fifth-round stoppage of English prospect David Price, whom the 41-year-old, thought-to-be-past-his-prime southpaw had also knocked out in the second round in February.
Mitchell may have avoided similar fate as Price, however, by sticking to the game plan of trainer, Andre Hunter.
“I didn’t need David Price to lose to validate my performance,” said Mitchell. “I was going to do what I had to do to win…At the end of the day, I know that styles make fights, and that was a big, big fight for my career, and my main objective was to get the ‘W.’ That’s what I did. I was happy with my performance. Could I have done a little bit more? Yes, but at the same time, we knew going into this fight that Johnathon Banks was a great counter-puncher, and that’s the way that he was going to be looking. Even if you’re throwing a lot of jabs, you’re still opening things up for him to get your timing down and stuff like that.
“He was going to be looking for me to do the same thing: Come forward, be the bull and to throw hard shots. But I’m not a one-trick pony. I can do different things, and I that’s what I had to do to win that fight. It would have been crazy as hell if I had boxed the first 10 rounds like I had boxed, and then, the last two rounds, went out there and gotten aggressive and lost the fight. I have been an idiot. I had put on exciting fights, but this one wasn’t a barn-burner. I’m my biggest critic. But the more that I watch the fight, it wasn’t an exciting fight, but it was a very technical fight because I was thinking for the whole 12 rounds.”
Mitchell, nevertheless, knows that he has plenty of room for improvement if he is to challenge for a title in a division whose fighters such as RING champion Wladimir Klitschko, his older sibling, WBC titleholder Vitali Klitschko, fellow U.S. prospect Deontay Wilder, contenders Tyson Fury and Thompson, and Price all tower above him at 6-foot-5 or taller.
“Obviously, I would like to fight a taller opponent. I want to eventually fight for the title, so a taller person would probably be best…Right now, it doesn’t matter to me. I just want to be compensated for whoever I fight…It was good that I went 12 rounds. I went eight rounds three years ago, but I’m clearly better than I was three years ago. So to see me in there with Johnathon going 12 rounds was good,” said Mitchell.
“But one of the biggest things I need to work on is giving more. When I had him on the ropes and I was leaning on him in the latter rounds, I still stood in front of him too much. I didn’t give im a lot of angles. Little stuff like that, better head movement and my legs weren’t as quick as I wanted them to be. Just getting more strength and more power in my legs. I’m just excited because I know that I have a lot to learn and a lot of room to grow.”
Wilder, a 27-year-old who, like Mitchell, is promoted by Golden Boy, will return to the ring on Aug. 9 against ex-beltholder Sergei Liakhovich. Fury, who is 25, is in line for a clash with former beltholder David Haye on Sept. 28.
Mitchell said he would like to get back into action in the fall.
“At the latest, I would like to return in October, and at the earliest, September. Most likely, though, it will probably be in October,” said Mitchell.
“I’m just staying sharp. I took my two weeks off, and now I’m back in the gym, not killing myself, but it’s two, three days in the gym, and hopefully I’ll know when I’m fighting again within the next week to 10 days.”
Photo by Al Bello-Gettyimages
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org