Friday, 24 May 2013

Seth Mitchell Interview: I'll make sure i'm victorious on June 22 against Johnathon Banks

No Holds Barred: You had an unorthodox entry into the world of boxing. You actually graduated with a degree in criminal justice and security management. 

Seth Mitchell: Yeah, I went to Michigan State University in 2001 to do a degree in criminal justice with a specialisation in security management and graduated from there in 2005.

No Holds Barred: Why did you choose that specific course?

Seth Mitchell: I was actually undecided when I went there, and when you're undecided, you take a lot of different courses. I had a criminal justice class that really intrigued me. Then I took another class and that intrigued me too. That helped me decide that [criminal justice] was going to be my major. So that's why I chose that as my major.

No Holds Barred: Had you planned to use your degree in a more appropriate environment than boxing such as becoming a lawyer?

Seth Mitchell: Well, I didn't have any specific plans, such as becoming a lawyer. But maybe working in the criminal justice field like becoming a probation officer, working with youth, something like that. That was my plan at the time.

No Holds Barred: You were also a top football linebacker in high school and in college at Michigan State. Why did you decide not to follow either of these paths?

Seth Mitchell: Ultimately I wanted to follow that path. I was an All-American at high school but when I arrived at Michigan State, I had problems with my left knee and was out injured a lot of the time. But I still played when I was fit and was a standout level player at collegiate level. I believe I'd have gone far if it wasn't for the injuries.

No Holds Barred: I read that your high school retired your jersey.

Seth Mitchell: Yes, I was the first person to have his jersey retired at my high school.

No Holds Barred: Could nothing be done about your injury?

Seth Mitchell: Well, I had seven surgeries to try to correct the ailment, but it just didn't work out for my football career.

No Holds Barred: Has it affected your boxing career in any way? 

Seth Mitchell: It doesn't really bother me too much. It's amazing and I thank God that I'm still able to compete in boxing. Boxing and football are two different sports. In football, you got a lot of abrupt stops, you push against 300 lb players, you got to lift a lot of weights, do a lot of squats, and things of that nature. I don't have to do any of that to become successful in boxing. Even though I can compete and train to be a top boxer, I don't believe I could train and achieve my full potential in football right now.

No Holds Barred: I've been told by many Americans that one reason the American boxing scene is lagging behind other countries now is because big American athletes are preferring to take up American football which pays a lot more. Do you have any thoughts on this?

Seth Mitchell: Yes, I can definitely agree with that. When you're in college and you're seeing these big contracts handed out to players in football, basketball, and baseball, it's an obvious decision to want to go play in those sports. Boxing is a tough sport, and it's much harder to work your way up the ladder.

No Holds Barred: You turned to boxing when you were twenty-four, after being inspired by another American Football player, Tom Zbikowski. What was it specifically about Tom which inspired you to take up the sport, rather than perhaps a more familiar route, like watching Mike Tyson fights?

Seth Mitchell: I was a casual boxing fan before, and of course, a big Mike Tyson fan. With Tom Zbikowski, it was just the simple fact that he was a football player like me, at the same time as me. He played for Notre Dame, I played for Michigan State, and we played against each other. He was a collegiate athlete just like me so when I saw him take up boxing I was like 'if he can do it, so can I."

No Holds Barred: You only had ten amateur fights, nine of which were knockout victories. Why did you think it was necessary to turn pro within only one year of taking up boxing? Would it not have been better to have a longer amateur career?

Seth Mitchell: I wanted to see if I could make the Olympics [in 2008] but I only had one year to achieve that so it wasn't a realistic target. Also, I had a pro-style of fighting, rather than an amateur one. Age was against me too because I was twenty-four years old. I thought it was best to just have my amateur career at the early stages of my pro career. That's how it's worked out for me. I signed with Golden Boy Promotions, and have a good team around me, so it's been a good idea to go pro.

No Holds Barred: You fight Johnathon Banks in a hotly anticipated rematch on June 22 in Brooklyn, NY. Were you frustrated that the original rematch date was pushed back to this date due to Banks injuring his thumb in sparring, or was this just one of those things that happen?

Seth Mitchell: Obviously it's frustrating, especially happening so close to the fight. I've already peaked, I'm in great shape, excited and ready to go. I mean I wanted to still fight on that date or close to that date, but things didn't turn out that way. But you can't let it overwhelm and consume you. After a few weeks, I just forgot about it, and stayed focused by going to the gym, but didn't kill myself training. Everything happens for a reason, I just have to deal with it, sharpen up my skills, and be better in the rematch.

No Holds Barred: Your loss to Banks was considered one of the biggest shocks of last year. Do you think you could have done anything in that fight to avoid that loss, or do you think Banks was just the better fighter on the night?

Seth Mitchell: I think I was winning the fight, until I got knocked down. Naturally, I'm very aggressive in the ring, and when I looked at the fight, I did a lot of technical things wrong that night like lunging in, or overreaching. My eyes weren't in the right place either and he caught me and I wasn't able to recover. When you don't see shots coming, they tend to affect you more. I'm not taking anything away from Johnathon Banks though. I'm not one for making excuses. He did what he was supposed to do on that night. He didn't get lucky in the fight, he just did what he needed to do.

No Holds Barred: You insisted on an immediate rematch with Banks. Did you not think having an easier bout in between might have been more useful?

Seth Mitchell: That's just the sort of fighter I am. Like I said, I think Banks benefited from me not fighting my best fight on that night. If Banks had boxed my head off for five or six rounds, and then stopped me, I would've still wanted a rematch, but not an immediate one. That wasn't the case though. It was a learning experience for me, and I'm a better fighter because of it. I can't wait to show the world that I'm the better fighter.

No Holds Barred: What have you changed about your fighting style that makes you think you will be victorious this time around?

Seth Mitchell: Without giving away my game plan, I'm just a smarter fighter now. I'm blessed with power in both hands, I have a great jab, I have great athleticism. We just have to put all of these things into play in the rematch.

No Holds Barred: Before the loss you were touted as the best heavyweight prospect in American boxing but now your name seems to have slipped off the radar somewhat. Has that loss affected your momentum at all and how do you plan to get your name right back out there again?

Seth Mitchell: Taking care of business on June 22! I'm in a great situation right now. I'm very fortunate and blessed to be in the position I'm in. Despite coming off of a loss, I'm still on a major network, like Showtime, so I really haven't fallen off the radar. I still have a lot of support from people and a lot of people still want to see me fight. I'm not fooling myself though. I know this is a big fight for me. I mean it's one thing to lose twice, but it's another thing to lose twice to the same person. This is the business I chose though, I'm up for the challenge. I'm very confident, not nervous at all, and i'm definitely going to come out victorious from this fight. I'm going to show a lot of people I'm one of the best heavyweights out there and my title opportunity isn't far away.

No Holds Barred: Do you know where you are currently ranked by the orgs and do you think a win could realistically bring you a world title shot? After all, in the current heavyweight division, many boxers are able to secure a title shot after just a few good wins.

Seth Mitchell: I actually don't. You know I don't read all that stuff. Usually, I just leave that to my manager, and he can tell me where I'm ranked.

No Holds Barred: Aside from your one loss, how would you say your progress has been so far? 

Seth Mitchell: I think my career has gone great so far. Early in my career I fought guys like Zack Page, and Jermell Barnes and even though they have horizontal records - like they might have had a record of 19-26 at the time, they had fought everybody and had rarely been stopped. Even my pro debut was against a guy who had fought a lot of tough opponents and only been stopped once. More recently I've fought some good opponents like Johnathon Banks, and Chazz Witherspoon, so I definitely think I haven't been babied at all.

No Holds Barred: In five years, you've fought twenty-seven times and have a seventy percent KO ratio. I presume you're happy with that?

Seth Mitchell: Yes, sir. Like I said, I've taken the proper steps as I've progressed and my team has helped me a lot.

No Holds Barred: If you successfully get by Jonathon Banks, who do you want to challenge in the coming year, or do you not want to plan too far ahead?

Seth Mitchell: I don't think too far ahead of any particular person, but it wouldn't really matter who I fought next. But my main focus right now is Johnathan Banks on June 22. Once I take care of that business I'll concentrate on my next fight. As long as it makes financial sense, I wouldn't care who I fought next.

No Holds Barred: You've fought a lot of times in your home state of Maryland, as well as California, Nevada, District of Columbia, and New Jersey. Where have you preferred fighting?

Seth Mitchell: I believe out of my twenty-seven fights,  I've fought about thirteen fights here. The last time was against Zack Page in 2010. Fighting in front of your home fans is great. I even consider Atlantic City to be a home away from home for me. I get a lot of people coming up to support me when I fight there. When I fought on the Lamont Peterson vs Amir Khan card in DC, the atmosphere was crazy. I loved fighting in Vegas too. I am really looking forward to fighting in New York [against Banks].

No Holds Barred: American heavyweight prospects have yet to go toe-to-toe in recent years with guys like yourself, Joe Hanks, Deontay Wilder, Malik Scott, and Bryant Jennings going down seperate paths. Do you think there could be some big American bouts between you all in the future and why do you think they haven't happened yet?

Seth Mitchell: I think there's a lot of politics involved and I think as American heavyweights, we're all trying to rise to the top, but backs are going to be against the wall in the next year or so and we're going to have to fight each other.

No Holds Barred: Tony Thompson and Deontay Wilder have recently put their names out there on the world scene with big knockout victories over British fighters David Price and Audley Harrison, respectively. Do you think you could benefit from a big fight in the UK to showcase your talents? 

Seth Mitchell: I think that could definitely be a possibility. A win over a big name like that will always look good on your record, whether it's over there or over here. Those are fights I like.

No Holds Barred: Tony Thompson also has an important rematch coming up soon when he fights David Price on July 6. Who do you think wins the rematch?

Seth Mitchell: I think this is a dangerous fight for both guys. Obviously, nobody expected Thompson to win in the second round like he did. But I knew going into the first fight that Thompson was going to be a tough fight for David Price. I've been sparring with Thompson ever since I was about six months into my pro career. It was a big step up in experience for Price. If you'd have asked me before the fight who would win, I'd have predicted Thompson by decision. I just thought he brought too much experience. But we'll see what happens in the rematch, because David Price has a lot of power and a big right hand. It's an intriguing rematch.

No Holds Barred: Talking of British fighters, what did you make of Tyson Fury's knockout victory over Steve Cunningham recently, and the return of David Haye to the ring?

Seth Mitchell: I think the return of David Haye is good for boxing. I respect David Haye. I think he's one hell of a fighter. He has power, he has the legs, he has athletic ability, and he he's a good boxer. I think he's good for boxing. As for Fury, I wanted Cunningham to win their fight, but I didn't predict he would win. I thought Fury would just be too big. It surprised me that Fury got knocked down the way he did, and got hurt numerous times, but the fight went the way I thought it would.

No Holds Barred: At 6ft2, surprisingly, you are actually one of the smaller big name heavyweights out there today, as height seems to be one of the key advantages of this post-Lennox Lewis era. Do you think your height could end up costing you in a key fight, or are you confident enough in your ability to adapt in the ring?

Seth Mitchell: That's a legit 6ft2 though. With shoes on, it's more like 6ft3. You know, I've fought fighters who are listed at 6ft3, and I go to the weigh-in, and they're more like 6ft1. I'm definitely confident of my ring ability to adapt to any fighter. I just got to use more of my attributes in the ring. I have power in both hands, I have a great jab, and great legs. I'm an athlete, but a big athlete with skill.

No Holds Barred: How would you describe your style to a person who may not have seen you fight yet? 

Seth Mitchell: I'm a boxer-puncher. I suppose when you look at me fight you might think of me more as a brawler with a jab. I need to work more on being a boxer-puncher though because those are my best attributes.

No Holds Barred: Are you a fan of past heavyweight eras? Who is your favourite heavyweight of the past? 

Seth Mitchell: Before I started boxing, my favourite boxer was Mike Tyson. I just loved the excitement he brought to boxing, the power he brought to the ring, the speed he brought. As I got more involved in boxing, more interested in the science of the sport, Muhammad Ali became my favourite. He was the best for sure.

No Holds Barred: What do you think of the dominance of the Klitschko brothers, do you think they are worthy heavyweight champions and how do you see the heavyweight landscape once they retire?

Seth Mitchell: I think their dominance and what they've accomplished is remarkable. I don't necessarily think they're exciting fighters, but I definitely respect them. I mean if I was them, I'd probably do the same thing. Use what God has given you: The height and the power. They do well using their height and power advantages and keep their distance well. As for the second part of your question, I think there are a lot of heavyweight fights to be made that the public want to see because the fighters will mix it up more.

No Holds Barred: So do you think the next heavyweight era doesn't need a Lennox Lewis or a Klitschko brother, and could just contain plenty of fighters on the same level as each other? 

Seth Mitchell: I wouldn't necessarily say that. I mean Lennox Lewis was an exciting fighter. He was a big fighter, but he'd mix it up, he used his jab, he used his big right hand, threw body shots, and had great athleticism. He just didn't look as robotic [as the Klitschko brothers]. If you have a heavyweight like that who is dominant you'd still get a lot of fans watching because he's exciting to watch.

No Holds Barred: You have the backing of a top promoter in Golden Boy Promotions, you have the opportunity to right your only loss to date, and you have big ambitions. Is the sky the limit for your career?

Seth Mitchell: Definitely. I mean I started boxing when I was almost twenty-five years old and i only had ten amateur fights. But I still signed with Golden Boy after just my second pro fight. I knew then that I had put myself in a position where all I'd have to do is win and the sky's the limit for me and I could go on to achieve things I'd dreamed about since I was twelve years old. But I'm not naive. I know that as a professional athlete you're walking a tightrope. You could be on the verge of greatness and then suffer a couple of losses and you're right back down to the beginning again and have to climb all the way back up. The stakes are high for me right now but I'm in a great position where a lot of people would want to be in right now. I'm just very grateful and willing to go out there and give it my all.

No Holds Barred: Do you have a message for your fans?

Seth Mitchell: I appreciate all the support. Tune in for the June 22 rematch with Banks because it's going to be a great fight. You can follow me on Twitter @SethMayhem48 and on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/seth.mitchell.5).

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Losses mean nothing.... well and truly.

One of the biggest shames in modern boxing is the obsession that many boxers and fans have with undefeated records. An undefeated record in today's era is like music to the ears of many promoters, TV executives, and fans alike. The retention of the "0" is of tantamount importance in today's era of divisions over-saturated with world titles. How can fans possibly know who the best fighter is when every fighter holds some kind of title? Simple: Don't lose a fight!

A week doesn't go by without reading somewhere that Floyd Mayweather Jr is not only the greatest fighter of all time but that he would easily beat Sugar Ray Robinson (as well as Henry Armstrong, Willie Pep, Joe Gans, Pernell Whitaker et al.). I, of course, disagree. I don't think Robinson or Armstrong (or 90% of other all-time greats) would have a problem beating Victor Ortiz, Robert Guerrero, Shane Mosley, Diego Corrales or any other Mayweather opponent. Very few of his opponents will make it into the Hall of Fame, let alone beat a Hall of Fame fighter.


But, this isn't about him. This is about fighters who have plenty of losses on their records yet who, despite fighting in this era, have managed to carve out a career for themselves which in some cases included world title victories.

Here is a list i've compiled of current fighters who have done just fine despite their multiple losses:


- Michael Sprott: 37-20-0 - Recently went the distance with Robert Helenius and defeated Edmund Gerber before that. Has fought all of the top European fighters yet has rarely been stopped in his career. Wins over Danny Williams and Audley Harrison secured his place as one of the top British domestic heavyweights of the past decade.


- Matt Skelton: 28-8-0 - He never made his pro debut until he was thirty-five years old due to him having previously been a kickboxer. Despite this, within six years he had beaten every domestic British heavyweight and won English, British, Commonwealth, and European titles as well as the lightly-regarded WBU title.

- Glen Johnson: 52-18-2 - One of the toughest fighters in history; A modern day Archie Moore. Only stopped once - by Bernard Hopkins in his first ever loss - and has been one of the top light heavyweights throughout his career.


- Firat Arslan: 33-6-2 - Only has six losses in a sixteen year career so not a bad record really. But, i've added him here because he seems to have suffered a bit in his career from bad luck. Last November he arguably beat WBO cruiserweight champion Marco Huck whilst many thought he should have been given the win against Alexander Alekseev in his fight before that which ended in a draw. His other two losses this past decade were against world class foes.


- Silvio Branco: 62-11-3 - In his twenty-five year career, he has fought from middleweight up to cruiserweight and yet despite being forty-six years old is still one of the top contenders out there. He tends to fall short against the best fighters, but he has challenged a lot of them.


- Ovill McKenzie: 21-11-0 - McKenzie continues to rack up wins at British and Commonwealth level. He's coming off of three good domestic wins and gave Tony Bellew two very tough fights before that.


- Gabriel Rosado: 21-7-0 - Has had his fair share of defeats, but many of which were against world class opposition. For example, his only two knockout losses were at the hands of two heavy-handed fighters in Gennady Golovkin and Alfredo Angulo. Has some good wins on his record too though, against Kassim Ouma, Saul Roman, Jesus Soto Karass, Sechew Powell, and Charles Whittaker. Many people also thought his split decision loss to J'Leon Love recently should have been a win on his record.

- Carlos Molina: 21-5-2 - His record doesn't look too spectacular until you look closer. He defeated Cory Spinks last time out (albeit a past-his-prime Spinks), and was robbed of a victory over James Kirkland a year ago. A win over Kermit Cintron plus draws against Erislandy Lara, and Julio Cesar Chavez are impressive too.


- Randall Bailey: 43-8-0 - Eight losses in seventeen years isn't bad at all but to the untrained eye perhaps it seems a lot. A year ago he was a big underdog against Mike Jones, who only had to win to set up a big world title showdown with Kell Brook, but he won via an eleventh round stoppage over an exhausted Jones. His career has also included a brief reign as WBO light welterweight champion in the late nineties.


- Kendall Holt: 28-6-0 - He is considered the sort of fighter who can upset the favourite. He went the distance with Danny Garcia and Timothy Bradley, and also had two classic bouts against Ricardo Torres - the second of which resulted in him dethroning the WBO light welterweight champion.


- Jesus Soto Karass: 27-8-3 - Another warrior who hardcore fans really appreciate. Had two close fights with undefeated welterweight Mike Jones which he only marginally lost, has wins over Selcuk Aydin and Carson Jones, and rarely gets overawed in the ring.


- Zab Judah: 42-8-0 - I have written this guy off so many times yet he keeps coming back. After his losses to Joshua Clottey and Amir Khan i thought he was finished yet he's managed to remain on the scene and has gone on to defeat Kaizer Mabuza and Vernon Paris, and gave Danny Garcia his toughest fight. He also has a very controversial win over Argentinian puncher Lucas Matthysse.


- DeMarcus Corley: 39-20-1 - To look at that record you'd think he was a journeyman. He held the WBO light welteweight title in the early 2000s briefly but his only significant performance back then was his win over Randall Bailey. Since then he has given countless champions tough fights and even sprung a surprise win a year ago over Paul McCloskey in Northern Ireland.


- Derry Mathews: 32-8-2 - Derry is a very dangerous fighter. He always brings the fight to his opponents and has big wins on the British domestic scene against the likes of Anthony Crolla, Stephen Jennings, Scott Lawton, Matthew Marsh, John Simpson, and Stephen Foster.


- Gamaliel Diaz: 37-10-2 - Hardly the record of a world champion yet that's what he was until recently. He dethroned WBC super featherweight champion Takahiro Ao in Japan via a unanimous decision but lost it to another Japanese fighter, Takashi Miura, last month. Also has wins at featherweight over Robert Guerrero and Elio Rojas.


- Rocky Juarez: 29-10-1 - His ten losses have come in the last eight years, yet despite this he gained a victory over Antonio Escalante last time out. During this time he went the distance twice with longtime champion Chris John, and twice with Mexican legend Marco Antonio Barrera, as well as reaching the final bell against Juan Manuel Marquez, Jorge Linares, and Humberto Soto. He also has wins over several good fighters and has never been stopped.


- John Simpson: 25-9-0 - Simpson is one of those British fighters whose record means absolutely nothing - nine losses or twenty losses, it doesn't matter. The guy always enters the ring with the same enthusiasm. He's notched up wins against very good domestic opposition in Paul Appleby, Martin Lindsay, Paul Truscott, Andy Morris, and most recently Choi Tseveenpurev.


- Jhonny Gonzalez: 54-8-0 - The losses on his record are deceiving, as four of them came in the first three years of his career whilst the other four are spaced out over eleven years. He has beaten some very good fighters including Elio Rojas, Tomas Villa, Hozumi Hasegawa, Fernando Montiel, and Marc Johnson.


- Orlando Salido: 39-12-2 - Another fighter whose record fails to flatter him. Eight of his losses came in the first five years of his career. In the past eight years he has beaten some great featherweights and at one point was the number one featherweight in the world.


- Robinson Castellanos: 18-9-0 - His record looks very poor until you look closer and see that he hasn't lost in three years and is on a ten-fight win streak which includes a win over former WBA featherweight champion Celestino Caballero last month.


- Takalani Ndlovu: 33-9-0 - Not the greatest fighter, but always willing to try again. After two unsuccessful attempts at dethroning IBF super bantamweight champion Steve Molitor he was finally victorious third time around. Also had a trilogy of bouts with fellow South African Jeffrey Mathebula.


- Genaro Garcia: 39-10-0 - Not a world beater by any means but a durable opponent. He lasted the distance last year against power-punching prospect Julio Ceja and even has a win earlier in his career against future world champion Rafael Marquez.


- Tomas Rojas: 40-14-1 - Like many Hispanic fighters he has several losses on his record from his early days. Despite racking up more losses in the past seven or eight years, he still managed to win a world title and was considered one of the better fighters in the weight classes he has fought in.


- Rey Megrino: 19-20-3 - More losses on his record than wins but plenty of those losses were against top quality Asian opposition. He defeated the legendary Pongsaklek Wonjongkam last year which threw his name out there. Perhaps it was more a case of "right place at the right time" but only time will tell.


- Muhammad Rachman: 64-11-5 - Has only been stopped once in his career - by Denver Cuello - and held the IBF minimumweight title in the mid 2000s.


- Kohei Kono: 28-8-0 - Despite having no impressive big wins on his record, he was handed a world title shot against the very competent WBA super flyweight champion Tepparith Kokietgym last year and won.


- Sonny Boy Jaro: 34-12-5 - A year ago Jaro, a total no hoper, stopped long reigning flyweight King Pongsaklek Wonjongkam to win the WBC title. It was a massive shock at the time. He has since lost both of the fights he has had.


- Edgar Sosa: 48-7-0 - Five of his losses came in the first three years of his career. Since then he has wins over world class opposition which includes Brian Viloria, Luis Alberto Lazarte, Gilberto Keb Baas, Sonny Boy Jaro, Pornsawan Porpramook, and Ulises Solis.


- Gilberto Keb Baas: 35-22-4 - Baas is to the lower weight classes what Glen Johnson is to the higher weight classes: A tough gatekeeper of the division. Despite racking up his fair share of losses, he has still had some success of his own including defeating Omar Nino Romero for the WBC light flyweight title in 2010 and successfully defending it once against Jose Antonio Aguirre.


- Chris Edwards: 17-15-4 - Another good British fighter with a record that doesn't reveal the true story. American radio host Bill Calogero said on his show "Talking Boxing with Billy C" ahead of Edwards' clash with British champion Paul Edwards in 2011 that "it is fights like this that prove why the UK carries the sport of boxing." He was making the point that British boxing is so competitive that records mean nothing. Chris was victorious over the undefeated Paul.


- Katsunari Takayama: 25-6-0 - Won the WBC minimumweight title in his sixteenth bout, then had a shaky six year period, before winning the IBF title against Mario Rodriguez this year in Rodriguez' hometown.