In his 26th fight as a professional boxer, something happened to Seth Mitchell that had never happened to him before.
He got hurt.This was the co-main event on an HBO telecast from Atlantic City and Mitchell was hurt in the first round by Chazz Witherspoon.
“I got caught with a good shot with the right,” said Mitchell, a Gwynn Park High School graduate. “Mentally, I was there, but my legs were gone. I just wanted to survive the first round, make adjustments and get back to my corner.”
Two rounds later, the fight was over.
And with his quick recovery and third-round knockout, Mitchell’s meteoric rise through boxing’s heavyweight ranks continued after a scare. He’s 25-0-1 in his professional career. He has recorded 10 consecutive knockouts. He’s becoming a force with a shot at winning a heavyweight title in the near future.
“Of all the fighters I’ve worked with, he’s so stunningly attractive as an athlete and wonderful as person. And I’ve worked with some champions,” said Mitchell’s manager Sharif Salim.
Perhaps the only knock on Mitchell right now, as Salim said half-jokingly, is that he wants the fights to last a bit longer so the 6-foot-2, 240-pound former linebacker can gain more experience. The longest fight of his professional career was an eight-round unanimous decision against Zack Page in 2009. Mitchell’s next fight, a knockout of Ryan Thompson, was the first if his string of 10 consecutive knockout bouts.
“It’s been good, but I tell everybody that this is a business first. That’s how I stay level-headed,” said Mitchell, who graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in criminal justice. “I’ve always been a humble person. I don’t let it go to my head. They’re saying these things because of what I’m doing and how I’m doing it. I’m doing well.”
Mitchell began boxing professionally in 2008 and signed with Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions after his second pro fight. A standout football star at Gwynn Park and Michigan State, Mitchell was injured in 2005 and a nagging knee ailment forced him out of football.
“Mayhem,” the nickname given to Mitchell by Michigan State’s Jason Teague, took up boxing in 2006 and has steadily risen to prominence.
“We had a Jerry McGuire moment. He had me at ‘hello,’” Salim said of his decision to work with Mitchell. “At the end of the interview, he said ‘You’ll never beat me to the gym.’ I haven’t beaten him to the gym. If you ask him to do four miles, he’ll do six. Those are the attributes and the ingredients that I thought could create a heavyweight champion, particularly in the somewhat anemic heavyweight class.”
Mitchell said his wife, Danielle, his 5-year-old daughter, Aurielle, and 1-year-old son, Austin, are his “motivation and drive.” He spends the time before his fights alone in his hotel room, praying.
“I don’t ask for victory,” Mitchell said. “I ask for Him to allow me to do my best. To give my trainer [Andre Hunter] insight and pray for no serious injuries.”
There hasn’t been a U.S.-born heavyweight champion in five years. And while Salim and Mitchell continue to brainstorm ideas on how to market the Mayhem brand, they also continue to give back to the community. Mitchell frequently visits Gwynn Park High and speaks in front of soldiers in various locations, including a 2011 trip to visit U.S. troops in Iraq. He and Salim are working on a program called “Books Snap Bullies” which would help improve local libraries and school media centers.
“We brainstorm a lot,” said Mitchell, who turns 30 on Tuesday. “It’s about future endeavors. Things outside of boxing. Boxing’s not going to last forever and there are lots of things we want to get involved in. I had a lot of mentors and people like that when I was growing up that helped me out along the way. One thing you might say or do might change a person’s life. It’s important to give back.”
Salim said it’s unclear when Mitchell’s next fight will be, but it likely will come in July or August.
“We have received a lot of commendations. We’ll keep our heads even,” Salim said. “It’s nice to have the Klitschko brothers [Vitali and Wladimi] call you out repeatedly. We’re not going to go that way right now. We don’t sell the wine before its time.”
Added Mitchell: “I just know how hard I’ve worked and what I’m trying to do. I just go hard when I’m in the ring. Anybody can be beat.”