Besides Senior Day at Spartan Stadium and Texas Southern coming to town to help open the Breslin Center for the season, Spartan fans have another big sporting event to look forward to: the next bout in upcoming heavyweight contender Seth "Mayhem" Mitchell's ascent to the title!
Live on HBO this Saturday night at 10 ET in Atlantic City, undefeated Seth Mitchell takes on Detroit native Jonathan Banks on the undercard of Adrien Broner challenging Antonio DeMarco for the WBC lightweight title. I don't keep up with the sweet science as much as I do more mainstream sports, so I reached out to the good people at SBN boxing blog Bad Left Hook for some more info on Mayhem.
Mitchell, of course, was a stud football player during the dark years, terrorizing defenses his sophomore season (2003) as a middle linebacker (including destroying Ohio State for 17 tackles), and was a pre-season all-Big Ten going into his junior year when a knee injury forced his retirement from football. After completing his degree in criminal justice, Mitchell saw former Notre Dame safety Tom Zbikowski fight & decided to dedicate himself to the sport.
Six short years later, Mitchell is an undefeated, up & coming heavyweight. He's an orthodox (right-handed), 6'2" fighter that normally weighs in the low 240's, and sports a 25-0-1 (19 KO) record, and for what it's worth the draw was a four round split decision in his 3rd professional fight. His opponent this weekend, righty Jonathan Banks, is 6'3", but leaner (low 220's) and has a pro record of 28-1-1 (18 KO). This fight was originally scheduled for July, but Mitchell injured his hand beating down his last opponent so badly, it had to be pushed back.
Mitchell has fattened his record against mostly no-name opponents as he learns the sport; I'm pretty sure he's never even been knocked down in his pro career. I caught his last fight, in April against Chazz Witherspoon, and he got tagged pretty badly in the first round. Mitchell clearly was stunned, but regained his composure after the first and put Witherspoon away with a third round TKO. One concern with Mitchell is endurance - as Scott Christ from Bad Left Hook told me, "[endurance] is a potential problem for him. We don't know what kind of gas tank he has because it's never really been tested. But that's also because he tends to get guys out pretty quickly. Most of his opponents thus far have been soft, but guys like Chazz Witherspoon and Timur Ibragimov are competent fighters (if limited), and he was able to take them out as early as he has anyone else, though he did suffer a small scare against Witherspoon."
Scott explained to me that this is another chance for Mitchell to work his way up from prospect to legit contender. According to Scott, Banks, who is a training partner of WBC Heavyweight champ Vitali Klitschko, is "a solid veteran, but a guy who should lose on Saturday. He's well-schooled and durable, but he has been booked to lose this fight. Golden Boy and Al Haymon [Mitchell's promoter & manager] wouldn't have signed it if they didn't think Seth would win handily, basically. That's where Seth is in his development: Still being matched with guys he should beat if he is indeed the real deal."
Bad Left Hook considers Mitchell to be a top 3-5 American heavyweight contender, behind most notably Chris Arreola & Eddie Chambers, and around a top 10 globally; the website for the International Boxing Organization, which I know nothing about, currently has him as it's #11 overall global heavyweight in their computer rankings.
In the ring, Mitchell is a powerful puncher who gets close to do his damage; Banks is a counter puncher who will look to capitalize on Mitchell mistakes. Banks has a slight height advantage, and Mitchell a half-inch longer reach. I've seen him described as more of a boxer than a brawler, which is uncommon for ex-football players. Scott notes he has terrific athleticism, and this interesting article talks about his daily nutrition & exercise routine, which includes minimal weights but 600-800 crunches (sounds more or less like my day . . .).
Mitchell is a true Spartan and bleeds green - he has a Spartan tattoo on his chest, his trunks sport his green #48 on the front, and Spartan on the back, and he & his corner wear Spartan green robes. Former running back Jason Teague coined the "Mayhem" nickname when Mitchell announced his boxing intentions after hanging up his football helmet. He believes that he can work his way up to an opportunity to take on Vitali Klitschco sometime in 2014 - assuming he takes care of business in the meantime. This weekend is his next step towards that chance!
** Be sure to check out Bad Left Hook for all your boxing coverage. They run a great live match thread for most notable fights, and even do their own in fight, round by round analysis & scoring.**