By Keith Idec
Timur Ibragimov isn’t intimidated by fighting Seth Mitchell near Mitchell’s hometown, nor does he care that he’s considered an underdog entering their 10-round heavyweight fight Saturday night in Washington, D.C.
Ibragimov is clearly the ‘B’ side in their HBO co-featured fight. He’s an opponent who’s supposed to test the undefeated Mitchell more than any of his first 24 opponents, yet the 36-year-old native of Uzbekistan also is supposed to lose as Mitchell moves toward legitimizing himself as a heavyweight contender.
“Like I say, whenever you are [the] underdog, you have to train double,” Ibragimov said. “This is pushing me more, this thing. Of course, I hear everybody saying I am  and I have three losses. I really don’t care. I know one thing: on Dec. 10, I will be ready 100 percent and that’s why this really does not bother me. I really don’t care. I know one thing, that Dec. 10 will be [a] war.”
The 6-foot-3, 225-pound Ibragimov (30-3-1, 16 KOs), a cousin of former WBO heavyweight champ Sultan Ibragimov, won nine straight bouts before losing a split decision to Jean-Marc Mormeck (36-4, 22 KOs) in his last fight. That defeat occurred last Dec. 2 in Paris, thus Ibragimov might need to shed some ring rust against the 29-year-old Mitchell (23-0-1, 17 KOs), a former Michigan State linebacker who didn’t begin boxing until five years ago.
The 6-2, 245-pound Mitchell mostly has beaten overmatched opponents since making his pro debut in January 2008. Ibragimov, who also has lost unanimous decisions to heavyweight championship challengers Tony Thompson (36-2, 24 KOs) and Calvin Brock (31-2, 23 KOs), has encountered a much higher level of opposition than Mitchell during his 11-year pro career.
Still, Ibragimov doesn’t believe Mitchell will be in over his head Saturday night at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, about a half-hour drive from Mitchell’s hometown of Brandywine, Md.
“He’s got an undefeated record,” Ibragimov said. “This already proves that he’s a good fighter. It’s not like everybody’s saying, ‘Oh, he’s fighting someone,’ or, ‘He didn’t fight no one.’ No, no. You’re going inside the ring. You have the opponent. He has two hands and he’s a heavyweight. Even one punch can change everything. That’s why I really, really respect this guy and I am training hard for this guy. But inside the ring, no respect, not nothing. Just the job.”
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com.