by David P. Greisman
BoxingScene.com: What’s been going on? I know you had a fight scheduled for July 14 against Johnathon Banks that had to be canceled due to your hand injury. What happened, and how do you feel about that?
Mitchell: “When I had to cancel my fight, of course I was disappointed. I wanted to fight. I wanted to put on a good show for my fans. But it is what it is. I hurt my [right] hand in the Chazz Witherspoon fight, but I didn’t realize that I’d hurt my hand. It wasn’t a particular punch where I felt I’d hurt the hand in the fight. But afterwards my knuckle had a little swelling in it, but I still could ball up my fist. I just figured I’d get some ice and soak it and take some Motrin and just treat it for a week to two weeks and everything would be fine.
“But once they scheduled my fight for July 14, the swelling went down a lot but the swelling just stayed there in my knuckle. That forced me to go just to see if anything was wrong. Like I said, my hand wasn’t hurting at all, but I know the swelling wasn’t supposed to be there. The MRI and X-rays came back negative, and the MRI said I’d sprained my MCL in my third metatarsal or whatever — my middle finger knuckle. That’s when I disclosed the information to my team and to Golden Boy, and we had to postpone the fight or pull out of the fight.”
BoxingScene.com: What’s the prognosis, then, for when that will heal, when you can go back into training and when you can fight again?
Mitchell: “I got to rest it for about five weeks. No contact for five weeks. I’m going to the gym today. I just can’t use my right hand. So I’m staying in shape. I’m still working on things in the gym. I’m just not using my hand for five weeks. Hopefully after that, that’s when I start back punching and start back sparring. I hope to be back in the ring in September.”
BoxingScene.com: Are you hoping to get the Banks fight rescheduled, or is there going to be a different opponent when you get back in the ring?
Mitchell: “I’m not sure. Hopefully we can still get that fight done. I feel bad for Johnathon Banks. This is a business. This is how we make a living. I know he was excited about the fight, as was I. Hopefully we can still get that done and get him back in the ring sometime in September or whenever I get back in the ring. I definitely would like to still make that happen.”
BoxingScene.com: Break down Banks as an opponent — what do you see him as in terms of skills and the kind of threat he may or may not pose against you?
Mitchell: “To be honest, I haven’t started looking at him yet. I saw his fight against Tomasz Adamek. I just saw highlights of that. But I don’t usually start, because opponents change. They might say you’re fighting this opponent, and then you start working on that opponent. So I don’t start looking at film of my opponents until about five weeks out from my fight.
“I let my trainer do most of the studying of my opponent. I’ll look at a couple of fights just to get familiarized with his style, but I don’t study my opponents that much. I let my trainer do that and then I break them down in the gym when I have gotten to that point where I’ve started studying.”
BoxingScene.com: Banks of course is familiar with the Klitschkos from sparring Wladimir, and the Klitschkos are of course the end goal for you, but he doesn’t physically resemble them. Why have him as your next opponent?
Mitchell: “I think he brought some things to the table. He moves a little bit. He’s active. He has a good right hand, and that’s something I need to work on more — getting out of the way of the right hand. I’ve been caught with the right hand in a couple of my fights. That’s just something that I have to work on. I’m still about three or four fights away from the Klitschkos. I think those fights that are going to better prepare me for the Klitschkos will come. But I think that this is a fight that at this point in my career is a good step for me.”
BoxingScene.com: What did you take out of your performance against Witherspoon in April? Was getting hurt a negative, a positive, or a combination of both?
Mitchell: “It’s a combination of both, moreso positive than negative. This is boxing. You’re going to get hit. I actually was like, ‘I got to keep my hands up more,’ but when I went back and watched the tape, my hands were actually up, I just was bent over at my waist instead of bending at my knees, which exposed the whole left side of my face, and he took advantage of it.
“But the way I came back, it showed my will, my determination, it showed me to be able to adjust in the first round. He dictated with his jab. I knew I couldn’t let him continue to dictate with the jab, so I adjusted and I made it an inside fight. I attacked his body well. It showed heart. It showed conditioning. It showed stamina. Even when I was hurt, I wasn’t flustered. I stayed composed.
“A lot of people, they talk about my lack of experience. But that fight showed that just because you don’t have a lot of amateur experience, or you don’t have that many rounds under your belt, sometimes you have to throw that stuff out of the window and just look at it as what it is. I showed that I am experienced and I showed experience in that fight.”
BoxingScene.com: Obviously you’d have preferred never getting hurt at all, but it turned that fight into a more exciting fight and a more thrilling victory, which in the end might make you even more marketable than you were already.
Mitchell: “Absolutely. And I tell people that that fight did more for me than if I just went out there and destroyed Chazz in one or two rounds. Now if you ask me which would I have preferred, I’d tell you I’d rather go in there and destroy him in one or two rounds than have to get hit in the head like that and get hurt like that.
“But that fight did a lot more for me as far as the public appeal and just the recognition and just to answer some questions in people’s mind about how he’s going to react when he gets hurt, and when he faces adversity is he going to crumble or fall. I believe I answered some of those questions.”
BoxingScene.com: What about the questions in your own mind? Had you ever been hurt like that before, either in sparring or in an actual fight?
Mitchell: “Not like that. I’d been dazed before where you get hit and you go like ‘Oh,’ and in like two seconds you’re fine. But I had to weather that storm for 40 seconds, and 40 seconds is a long time when you’re hurt in a boxing match.”
BoxingScene.com: Did that answer the question for you as to how you’re going to deal with it? Did you feel that Chazz Witherspoon’s power is representative of what you’re going to be facing when you get in there against the upper echelon of opponents?
Mitchell: “That’s a hard question to answer. Chazz was probably closer to 240 pounds when he got in the ring that night, and he caught me flush, not one time, but three or four times. He was heavy handed in that fight. Who’s to say if another fighter is going to be more heavy handed than him? It just showed that I can take a shot, and I can come back from that adversity.
“The way I came back was more surprising to me. It didn’t take me a couple rounds to warm up. From the second round on, it was like two different fights. It was like the first half of the fight, Chazz was dictating with his jab, but he wasn’t punishing me, then like the last minute and 20 seconds it was like Seth was in survival mode. And if you watched the fight from the second round on you’d think I was dominating the whole fight from round one.”
BoxingScene.com: We’ve been talking about you and defense, but how do you feel you were in terms of offense against Witherspoon, and what do you want to improve on in that area for your coming fights?
Mitchell: “I’m more, I would say, athletically inclined than I showed. I got a little more bounce to my step. I was hitting him with good jabs, but I got a good double and triple jab, which I didn’t show. There’s a lot of room for the improvement. If you watched the fight when I hit him with that first right hand right before the stoppage, if I’d have came back with the left hook, instead of it being a TKO, it’d have been a clean KO.
“He was wide open for the left hook. That’s what my trainer said: always finish with your combinations. You say ‘yeah,’ and then sometimes you do it and sometimes you don’t. I got to put more effort on finishing my combinations. That could mean the difference. Chazz could’ve come back and won the fight like I did if I didn’t finish that combination. That’s a thing that I have to work on. Overall as a whole, I’m still learning on the job. I think that’s what amazes people so much, because I started late, but I’m learning on the job and I feel like I’m continually getting better in every fight.”
BoxingScene.com: You said you want to be back in September. When do you start working on making sure that happens and you don’t stay on the shelf and only fight a couple times this year?
Mitchell: “I got a great team behind me, so as long as I’m healthy, I’ll be fighting. That doesn’t concern me. Hopefully I can fight two more times this year. I definitely would’ve fought two more times, maybe three times, if I hadn’t got injured. Now three times is definitely out the window, so I’m shooting for fighting two more times this year. But that’s all contingent on the health of my hand. But I’m not worried about being stuck on the shelf. If I’m healthy, I’m fighting.”
BoxingScene.com: Any final thoughts for your fans?
Mitchell: “I just want to tell them to continue to just lift me up in prayer. This is my first time having a little setback. Just pray for me that my hand gets better. It’s a minor injury, but as you know minor injuries can turn into major injuries if you don’t treat them right and take the necessary precautions. I just ask them to pray for me and just follow me on Twitter (@SethMayhem48).”
David P. Greisman is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Follow David on Twitter at twitter.com/fightingwords2 or on Facebook at facebook.com/fightingwordsboxing, or send questions and comments to [email protected]