EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: SETH MITCHELL
By Doveed Linder
In this interview, heavyweight Seth ďMayhemĒ Mitchell (25-0-1, 19 KOs) talks about how he got his start in boxing, his last fight with Chazz Witherspoon, and his upcoming fight against Johnathon Banks (28-1-1, 18 KOs), which will be televised on HBO on October 6th.
DL: When did you first put on the gloves? How old were you and what were the circumstances?
SM: I was twenty-four when I first put on the gloves. Before that, I was just a casual fan. If you had asked me about the history of the sport, I probably couldnít have told you much. I didnít even think about boxing until I saw Tom Zbikowski have his pro debut at Madison Square Garden. Tom Zbikowski and I played football against each other on the collegiate level. I went to Michigan and he went to Notre Dame. Seeing Tom fight inspired me. During that time, I had just finished up college and I was starting to circulate my resume. Even though I had stopped playing football, I still wanted to continue being an athlete. Boxing wasnít something I had ever talked about before, but once I saw Tom Zbikowski fight, I knew I wanted to do it. I had just played against this guy the year before, and now heís boxing? Oh, man! I had to give this a shot. The light bulb just went off in my head. It was like a revelation. A whole new career just suddenly opened up. When I told people that I was going to start boxing, they werenít surprised. Iím an aggressive person. I have a great work ethic and Iím gifted athletically. Before I ever put on the gloves, I felt that I could have tremendous success in this sport. The success Iím having now doesnít surprise me one bit. What does surprise me is how quickly I got signed to a top notch promotional company like Golden Boy and the fact that Iím being featured on HBO. Everything has just exceeded my expectations.
DL: A boxing ring is a different world than a football field. How did you feel about the contact at first? What stands out in your mind about some of your early sparring sessions?
SM: Getting hit on the football field and getting hit in a boxing ring is totally different. The first time I sparred, I faced a gentleman by the name of Phillip Brown. At the time, he was about 6-0 as a pro with five knockouts. He stood about 6í6Ē, 280 pounds and we were hitting each other with some hellacious blows. When I was driving home, I thought to myself, ďIs this what I really want to do?Ē My head was ringing and it was a different atmosphere, but thereís no quit in me. I just committed myself to getting better. Eventually, I learned how to roll with the punches and that takes a lot of the sting away.
DL: How would you compare boxing and football in terms of the brutality of the two sports and also the psychology of the athlete before a fight or a game?
SM: Iíve actually seen more vicious knockouts and concussions on the football field than in boxing. When you have a three hundred pound man running at you full speed, there are a lot of bad hits where guys have to get carted off the field. Itís just concussion after concussion. That happens in boxing as well, but it doesnít happen as often. Boxing is a one-on-one combat sport. If you get hit in the sternum in football, you can get a time-out and take some time to recover. Someone will step in for you. If you get hurt in boxing, you have to fight through it. If you stop, youíre labeled a quitter. Theyíll say you have no heart. Thereís a saying that fatigues makes cowards out of all of us. In football or basketball, you can raise your hand if you need a breather. In boxing, you donít have that. You have to go hard for three minutes, recuperate for one minute, and then be ready to do it again. Mentally, you have to be a lot tougher in boxing than you do in football.
DL: In your last fight, which was a third round TKO victory over Chazz Witherspoon, it appeared that you were hurt in the first round. Is the idea that you were hurt exaggerated or is that an accurate observation?
SM: Itís an accurate observation, but it was an equilibrium shot. My legs were gone, but I wasnít out on my feet. I never saw stars. Mentally, I was there. I could see him and I saw that he knew he had dazed me. The whole time I was thinking, ďDonít get crazy. Donít panic. Grab him and hold on. Do what you have to do to survive the round.Ē In between rounds, I thought, ďHow did that happen?Ē He was dictating with his jab and that allowed him to set up his right hand, so I wanted to make it a phone booth fight. I wanted to get on the inside. I made adjustments after the first round and he wasnít able to make adjustments in return. Midway through the second round, I saw that he was fatigued. He was tiring and that actually surprised me. I guess that had something to do with the body shots I was landing. I have fairly decent power in both of my hands. I didnít want to get too audacious and get careless with big shots, but I wanted to keep the pressure on and continue to touch him. I knew that the more I touched him, the better chance I had of stopping him. About a minute into the second round, I felt him wilting. He couldnít deal with the pressure and the referee ended up stopping the fight.
DL: On October 6th, you will be facing Johnathon Banks. What is your assessment of Banks as a fighter?
SM: Heís a counter puncher, so I have to do a good job of bringing my hands back after I throw my punches. Weíre working on some basic fundamentals, staying behind my jab and letting my hands go and avoiding his counters. Iím going to do what I do best Ė stay behind my jab and apply pressure.
DL: Have you and your team discussed how you want the next couple of years to unfold? Is there a plan to get to the championship?
SM: Weíre taking it one fight at a time. We discussed in the past that we would maybe like to have a title shot in 2013, but all that is contingent on my health and that I keep winning and improving in each fight.
DL: Anything in closing?
SM: I just want everybody to tune in. Itís going to be a great card. Adrien Broner will be headlining. Iíll be the co-main event. I know that Johnathon Banks will come prepared, as will I. Whenever you watch me fight, itís always going to be exciting. You definitely wonít be disappointed. Also you can follow me on Twitter at Sethmayhem48.
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