So I didn't get a chance to process Seth Mitchell's TKO3 win last Saturday night, on the Hopkins-Dawson undercard in Atlantic City. I supposed I can chalk up the tardiness on two accounts. One, I am too-fully immersed in all things Mayweather ahead of tomorrow's Mayweather-Cotto bout. Two, my belief that we can find anyone to challenge the Klitschkos, and break their rear-naked choke on the heavyweight division, has dwindled. Let alone an American...I will take a rumbler from Borneo, I don't care where someone is from if they can push Wlad and Vitali, and spring am upset on the either Brother K.
But there were things to like in the Mitchell performance against Chazz Witherspoon. Let's get into those before we delve into the negatives, shall we?
First, this kid has pop, in both hands. He has game-changer power, and Witherspoon learned that the hard way. Second, you may not agree, you might be one of those fans who dismisses a guy as "chinny" if he gets so much as buzzed, but we learned that Mitchell's beard has some sturdy whiskers. 'Spoon hurled a short right cross which made Mitchell's legs into tent poles stuck in sand. But...he didn't go down, and he made it to the end of the round, and he cleared his head, and he came back to hurt and stop the other guy. That will stick in the head of the pride of Brandywine, Maryland, an ex Michigan State footballer, and will help him immensely as he moves up the ladder to face more fearsome hitters than 'Spoon.
Those are my two main positive takeaway on the 29 year-old Golden Boy boxer who rose to 25-0 with 19 KOs. Now, some negatives. Not to be too nitpicky, but since you will need to have some special attributes to beat a Klitschko, our standards are high when we are assessing a potential threat to the brothers. One, Mitchell could stand to settle down, not get into free-swinging/trading/reckless mode so often. If he gets into the reckless mode against a brother, he will get dropped and likely stopped. Two, he'd be well served to not back straight up when he gets tagged, because he is a too-easy target to follow up on. Lateral, lateral, lateral, like he's dancing down the line, eyes on the QB. Readers, feel free to weigh in with your assessments on the heavyweight hopeful, things you've picked up on Mitchell in his recent rise from prospect to contender.
I chatted the other day with Mitchell, and asked him his takeaways from the win. I enjoyed the talk, and was impressed, quite impressed, with his thoughtfulness, and humility.
The boxer said he got so emotional, and started crying a bit after the bout because, "I hadn't been through that type of adversity, and the way I overcame it...If you asked me before how I'd react when getting hurt,I'd tell you I know the type of character I have. But I didn't KNOW. You don't till you get put in that situation."
On Monday, he got emotional again, and cried, as he pondered the enormity of what he went through, and soaked in the gratitude at getting over that high hurdle. "I nearly got stopped in the first round! I felt so blessed," he admitted, telling me that he was so used to winning nearly every round of his fights, that he was stung by surprise when faced with the adversity.
It will be back to the drawing board for some focus on defense in the next camp with trainer Andre Hunter, Mitchell told me. We talked about the inevitable call from the Internet geniuses who will tell him to dump the "unknown" Hunter, and he said that won't happen, that he has come this far with the trainer and that will continue moving forward. "My trainer didn't tell me to go in with hands down and bend over," he said, refusing an opportunity to toss Hunter under the Greyhound. (Points to the kid for loyalty.)
I cracked up when Mitchell showed his eyes to be wide open when we discussed HBO analyst Emanuel Steward's glowing assessment of the up 'n comer postfight. "I'm very impressed," Steward said. "It's what you look for in a heavyweight. He just seemed to be physically thicker and stronger. He's what can make the heavyweight division come back, fighters like him."
"Manny is putting on both hats, looking for opponents for Wladimir," he noted, sagely of the trainer-manager-analyst. He did watch the fight, and said that he didn't think Steward would have noted after round one that he maybe could not recuperate if he knew him. "He doesn't know me as a person. To say I don't think he can come back...If he knew me, he would have said, 'Chazz better watch out.''' (Note: Mitchell for sure would have made the NFL, but his knees wouldn't let him. He left football after finishing at MSU in 2003, after seven surgeries, six on his left knee. yeah, the kid is stubborn, in a good way.)
He will fight a Witherspoon level foe, or maybe a little step up, in September, he said. I think he'll be tossed into the Klitchko mix by next summer, but since there is a dearth of non-retread foes, maybe that happens earlier. For his sake, I think he could use about four more fights, to tighten up that defense, but we live in an age of acceleration, a microwave society, so we shall see. Readers, could you see the pride of Brandywine, Maryland bringing a Klitschko scalp to America any time soon, or ever? Weigh in.
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Who will win? Wladimir Klitschko or Tyson Fury?