Join Date: Sep 2008
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Seth Mitchell vs Mollo moved to Sept 16th plus Mitchell article.
Mitchell vs Mollo has been moved to Sept 16th on ESPN. If Mitchell wins he is planning 2 more fights this year and is aiming to fight a former champion like Hasim Rahman. If this goes to plan he will then try and get a fight against a top fighter in 2012.
Andre Hunter sits inside of the stuffy Dream Team Boxing gym in Clinton on a typically warm August afternoon with his workout checklist in hand.
His protégé, Brandywine native and rising heavyweight Seth Mitchell, has a constant coat of sweat covering his shirtless torso as he works out before an audience of boxing posters lining the gym walls.
“Boxing is a lonely sport,” said Mitchell, a former standout football player at Gwynn Park High School and Michigan State University. “I’m used to team sports. When one person is laughing and joking, everybody else is too. When you suffer in team sports, they suffer too.”
Mitchell’s team includes Hunter, manager Sharif Salim, promoter Golden Boy Promotions and an inner circle of family and loved ones.
But Sept. 16 in Las Vegas, Mitchell will stand alone in the ring to take on Mike Mollo in a bout that will be televised on ESPN’s Friday Night Fights. The bout originally was scheduled for Saturday as part of the undercard of the Robert Guerrero-Marcos Maidana fight that was to be televised on HBO. Golden Boy Promotions decided late last week to postpone the entire card when Guerrero suffered a shoulder injury.
Among the posters at Dream Team Boxing is one depicting the “Thrilla in Manilla,” the famous 1975 fight between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier. Hunter reflected on seeing Ali square off against Alfredo Evangelista in 1977 at the Capital Centre in Landover.
“Ali was out of shape, and just leaned against the rope for most of the rounds,” Hunter recalled. “But at the end of each round, he would steal it by throwing a couple jabs and shots and the whole crowd would go wild.”
Hunter believes Mitchell has the potential to captivate fans, similar to the way Ali did in his career.
“He’s a very likable person,” Hunter said of Mitchell. “His style is exciting to the eye. He has aggression, speed and power. That’s what’s missing in the heavyweight division now.”
Perhaps that lack of star power in a division that has been in decline since the twilight of Ali’s career in the late 1970s is what drove Golden Boy Promotions, one of the biggest outfits in boxing, to take a chance and sign an unproven Mitchell late in 2007. At the time, he was only a year into his career.
“I feel blessed,” Mitchell said. “I’m very fortunate to get signed with Golden Boy at 25 years of age, under 10 amateur fights and fighting for a year, that’s unheard of.
“I think it was the timing, the heavyweight division,” he added. “If I was a middleweight, I would not have gotten signed. Timing is everything. I think God put me in a position to excel.”
As Mitchell tries to renew interest in the heavyweight division, which has been without a significant American contender since the heyday of Evander Holyfield in the late 1990s, he knows the bar has been set by brothers Vladimir and Vitali Klitschko. Between the two, the Klitschkos hold every major heavyweight world championship.
“I realize that the heavyweight division it’s the Klitschkos and then everybody else,” he said. “I think I match up well with everybody else and when it comes time to challenge [the Klitschkos], I will put together a great camp and have a great strategy and I’ll be ready when that opportunity presents itself.”
The opportunity to compete for a title is distant for now. But Mitchell has forged a promising pro career, going 22-0-1 with 16 knockouts. Mollo is 20-3-1 with 12 knockouts and has the second-best winning percentage of anyone Mitchell has faced. The stakes continue to rise for Mitchell, who understands a loss could have a catastrophic effect on his career.
The bout originally was scheduled to be on the card of the WBA light welterweight title fight between Robert Guerrero and Marcos Maidana on HBO’s Boxing After Dark. But Guerrero suffered a shoulder injury and the entire card was postponed.
Salim decided it would be wise for Mitchell to take a bout as soon as possible, considering Mitchell has not fought since May in what is the longest layoff in his professional career.
“We’re probably in that last stage of prudence and deliberation in terms of fight selection,” said Salim, adding that Mitchell will fight again in October and December. “After 2011 is done, it’s wide open. Boxing folks have been talking about him going for a title in late summer 2012.
“Toward the end of this year, we’ll be looking at fighting some of those fading in glory such as [former undisputed heavyweight champ] Hasim Rahman, Michael Grant and Andrew Golata,” Salim added. “We’re at this point now where we have to be somewhat careful.”
Outside of the lights and glamour of professional sports, Mitchell understands that his base is what has helped him reach this point.
“I’ve always been family-oriented and always surrounded myself around positive people,” he said. “It taught me how to not be selfish. I know with everything I do, it’s not about me. My actions when I do something I consider how is this going to affect the people that truly care about me and have helped me get to where I’m going. I have a family, I have a wife and two children. I have my mom. That gives me my motivation.”
Maurice Banks first met Mitchell in 1999 when he joined the Gwynn Park High School football coaching staff. He has been a father figure and mentor to Mitchell and has a close relationship with the up-and-coming star.
“I talk with him nearly every day and we don’t get off of the phone without at least one of us says, ‘I love you,’” Banks said.
Banks said Mitchell’s tenacious work ethic and leadership qualities have helped him reach his status. And as Banks has helped guide Mitchell, he also has made it clear that Mitchell likewise has the opportunity to be a role model.
“There’s somebody that’s going to look up to him every day,” he said. “Kids are going to look up to you and you have a responsibility to reflect who you need to be in life. He doesn’t turn down opportunities to talk to children, to say good words for a young man.
Although even Mitchell has his weaker moments, Banks said.
“There was a guy that was really in his face before a fight. Seth got angry about it,” he said. “When he knocked him out, he did the thumb across his neck thing. I told him that’s not the image that you want to walk away with.”
As his reputation builds and he is featured in bouts held at huge venues, Mitchell and Hunter agree that the ascent grows more fun and exciting. But Mitchell has to temper his enjoyment.
“It’s fun but sort of scary at the same time,” he said. “You’re right at the cusp, and the last thing that you want to get is a loss. It’s not like basketball or football. If you’re a good team and have an off night and you lose, everyone still knows you’re a dominant team. But in boxing, a loss could set you back three or four fights, and at my level that’s a year.
“It’s fun, but you’re walking a tightrope. I know now I’m the talk of the town. At the same time, I know if I go out there and have a bad fight and take a loss or two, the table will turn.”