by David P. Greisman
It’s been a month since his last outing, but the beginning of 2012 has seen heavyweight prospect Seth Mitchell return to the gym to start getting ready for his next fight.
Mitchell, 29, improved to 24-0-1 (18 knockouts) with a second-round technical knockout Dec. 10 over Timur Ibragimov, a bout broadcast on HBO. He doesn’t yet know who his next foe will be, but he does have an idea of when he will return.
Mitchell (@SethMayhem48 on Twitter) spoke with BoxingScene.com about what’s next, what he feels he needs to improve on this year, and whom he turns to so he can continue to become a better fighter.
BoxingScene.com: It’s been a little less than a month since your win over Timur Ibragimov on HBO. What’ve you been up to since then?
Mitchell: “I’ve just been relaxing, enjoying the holidays. I’m just now getting back into the gym. I’m well rested, ready to get back into the groove of things.”
BoxingScene.com: Do you know what’s next yet?
Mitchell: “I know I’ll fight in March sometime. That’s what we’re talking, so I’m pretty much sure that I’ll fight in March. I don’t know the venue nor the opponent yet, but we should have an idea within the next week or two.”
BoxingScene.com: Do you know what network it’ll be on?
Mitchell: “I haven’t been told, but I’m pretty sure it’ll be back on HBO. It’ll definitely be on TV.”
BoxingScene.com: How important is being on TV? One thing we sometimes see is boxers get a big break on TV and then end up fighting less. Is that a potential blessing and a curse — you get all this attention, but maybe don’t get to develop as quickly as you’d like?
Mitchell: “Exactly. I’m a fighter, that even as a world champion, I would like to fight three times a year, a minimum, definitely, of two. I like to stay busy. I like to stay in the ring. I plan on fighting four times in 2012. I think that’s fairly active, so hopefully I won’t run into that problem.”
BoxingScene.com: Is it going to take that big HBO or Showtime money to get you into the ring, or would you be willing to take shorter money just to stay busy?
Mitchell: “I mean, I definitely don’t want to go back. I want to stay, good lord willing, on the networks, the bigger networks. I don’t want to look back. I’m not saying I wouldn’t fight on different venues and different networks, but I definitely don’t want to look back. I want to continue to move forward.”
BoxingScene.com: I know you don’t have an opponent set yet. Who are you eyeing, though?
Mitchell: “I’m just eyeing — if I was going to name names, that’s not my style — but definitely people in the top 10, top 15. My team and I will sit down and discuss some possible opponents coming up in the next week. I definitely expect it to be somebody in the top 15, top 10, a name that people have heard of.”
BoxingScene.com: You don’t have anyone that you specifically want?
Mitchell: “Not really. I mean, I’m a fighter. I train hard. I’m ready for the upper echelon of the heavyweight division, people in the top 10, top 15. Whoever they come up with, I’ll be ready for.”
BoxingScene.com: Aside from training for whomever your next opponent is, what do you feel you need to work on right now?
Mitchell: “I need to work on countering off my defense. I think I have a fairly good defense, but when I make my opponents miss, I tend to just get into that defensive mode. When I watch fights back on tape, I see a lot of openings that I could’ve capitalized on. That’s one of the main things that I need to work on.
“And just overall, I’m just getting better at becoming a student of the game, and getting better at boxing. But I think that’s one of my biggest problems — and keeping my left hand up.”
BoxingScene.com: They say that when football players move from college to the NFL that they need to be ready for the game to be played at a completely different speed. Now that you’re looking at top 10, top 15 opponents, what do you think is going to be the difference in what you see against you in the ring?
Mitchell: “They’re going to be more experienced. When they face me, they’ll probably have seen a big fighter, a strong fighter, somebody that has speed. So I’m not going to bring anything to the table, I don’t think, that they haven’t necessarily seen before. They’ve been in those tough fights and gone the distance.
“Just the experience. I’m going to be fighting fighters with more experience. And there’s no substitution for experience. I think that’ll be the main thing that I see when I really step up my level of opposition.”
BoxingScene.com: How do you work to improve between fights? Is it better sparring partners? Watching more tape? What are you doing in the gym to get you better for when you are in the ring fighting?
Mitchell: “It’s a combination of all that. I’m definitely always asking my trainer, Andre Hunter, ‘If you were coaching against me, what would you do to try to beat me? What are the things that I need to work on?’ I’m watching different fighters, just picking up little things, seeing how they move, seeing how they adjust, seeing how they stay relaxed, things of that nature.
“I’m just not thinking that I know it all. And I’m always trying to get better, man. That’s what I constantly try to work on to try to improve my boxing game.”
BoxingScene.com: What fighters are you watching right now, then? Who are your influences?
Mitchell: “My favorite fighter is Miguel Cotto, but I don’t necessarily watch one particular fighter. I watch all types of fighters. Any time there’s a boxing match on, I watch it. I definitely love watching Canelo [Saul Alvarez] fight for his combination punching. I like watching [Floyd] Mayweather fight just because of his defense.
“Cotto, because of his body attack and how he stays composed under pressure. I just watch a lot of fighters. Pacquiao, for the angles that he gives you with his legs. B-Hop [Bernard Hopkins], because he’s just a grandfather in there, literally, but he gets the job done. I watch all types of fighters, old, young, just to pick up some things, because I started so late, and I still have a lot to learn.”
BoxingScene.com: What has it been like at home ever since the Ibragimov fight, both on HBO basically in front of your hometown crowd in Washington, D.C.?
Mitchell: “It’s been cool. A lot of exposure. I visited a couple of news stations. Everything is pretty much the same, except when I’m walking around in the malls or just out in the grocery store or wherever I may be, I’m getting a lot more stares, people saying ‘Didn’t you just fight on HBO?’ and things of that nature.
“But as far as my life, it’s still the same. I still got the same area code (laughs). I’ve just really been chilling, man, just enjoying this time off, because I trained very hard for that fight. It’s good to just mentally and physically let loose a little bit. That’s what I’ve been doing. I just got back into the gym this past Tuesday.”
BoxingScene.com: You’ve been picking up more fans. What do you want them to know?
Mitchell: “They can expect me to be in the ring four times in 2012, starting in March. I’m just looking forward to it. They can expect to see some of the same: a heavyweight that’s going to be in shape, who takes this boxing business serious, that comes to fight, throws a lot of punches, and definitely will bring the power back into the heavyweight division. I ask them to tune in, continue to pray for me, and I’ll do the same. I wish everybody a happy New Year.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org