25 fights…24 wins…18 knockouts…1 draw…
With all the attention focused on whether Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao get it on, boxing fans the world over might want to think about shifting their eyes and minds to the fast rising, true human determined fury that is Seth Mayhem Mitchell. Think about the heavyweights you grew up watching…Muhammad Ali, the recently passed Joe Frazier, Larry Holmes, Ernie Shavers, Ken Norton, The Bayone Bleeder…Chuck Wepner and of course Mike Tyson. What they all had in common was determination. Everything can’t stop won’t stop. You were not getting what they had…until they gave it to you in the middle of the ring. It’s personal. Hard work. Goals. Belts. Buzz. Accomplishment. Missing their families to train and build their discipline. Waking up early. Running when they don’t want to. Doing it because they have to. Pounding on fighters to climb the ladder that has only room for one spot up top…
Now…we are about to see what heavyweight boxing is all about. Seth is coming. There is no denying the spirit of someone you can’t hold back. You know the names of those atop the heavyweight division…
Make room for one more because the rest are about to fall one by one…
Michael Tillery: Let’s get right to it Seth…can you taste it (heavyweight championship)?
Seth Mitchell: I could taste it when I first decided to get into boxing. A lot of people didn’t think I was making sense, but I believe in myself. I believe I have the tools to be successful in this sport. Like I’ve told people, the only thing that surprised me this far in my boxing career is that I was signed to Golden Boy so quickly. The success doesn’t surprise me at all because like I said…I believe in myself.
MT: Thoughts leading up to the HBO fight. Can you distinguish…can you articulate your thoughts leading up to the fight and your thoughts immediately afterward…did they change at all?
SM: Leading up to the fight, I knew it was a big stage…the level I wanted to be on. I never thought about losing the fight at all. The only thing that concerned me was keeping the buzz going.
I wanted to win and I wanted to win convincingly.
I definitely wanted to be the one who stopped (Timur) Ibragimov but if I had a dominant performance and I didn’t stop him, I wouldn’t have been upset. I wanted to put that feather in my cap and say I’m the one who stopped Timur Ibragimov.
I knew that a lot of eyes were on me. There were questions of could I perform in my hometown? Could I beat a credible opponent…not only at home…which is another added pressure, but under the lights on HBO? Was I gonna let all the distractions get to me?
I just let it soak all in. It was my first time being on HBO…fighting on a co-main event. I knew I couldn’t let it overwhelm or stop me from my aim…to go out there and put on a good performance. I was just glad I was able to get him out of there in two rounds. I didn’t expect two rounds. I hoped to stop him in seven or eight but thank God I got out of there and I’m healthy.
OK, it feels good. I’m going to enjoy this victory for a minute but it’s on to the next one. Clearing up some mistakes, I’m excited for 2012 and fighting my next opponent. It’s fun. It’s a good time in my life right now.
MT: Do you feed off the crowd and is there a college football difference?
SM: To be honest, when you are in there, you don’t really hear the crowd like that until you’re in the corner. I can tell you there’s a difference just stepping into the ring for a big fight than stepping on a football field for a big game. It’s a different feeling I can’t really explain.
In football I was excited. I was amped up. In boxing, you have to control your emotions. I’m doing a good job of that. You’re nervous before the fight. Once you step in the ring, the nervousness goes away. It’s a different feeling from football to boxing.
MT: How were you affected by the death of Joe Frazier?
SM: I was a casual boxing fan but once I got into the sport I found out how legendary he was. He and Muhammad Ali…classic fights. You can say that if Joe Frazier never got into a boxing match, boxing would not be the same. He left a lasting legacy. It was sad to see him go but he definitely left a major mark on the sport.
MT: I’m sure Seth everyone is telling you how good you are. Everyone is seeing things for you that you obviously want to attain as a boxer. How do you stay focused…navigating what could be perceived as hype?
Golden Boy knows the gem it has in Seth…
SM: I don’t let that stuff get to me. I’ve always been grounded. I’ve always been blessed with humility. I believe in myself but I’m not an arrogant person.
I don’t really talk trash. I know people might think this is all hype and everybody has their opinion and some feel I may not have the goods but I truly in my heart do not feel that way. I have the goods. I don’t think I can’t be beat or think I’m invincible but at the same time, when I step into the ring, I do not feel my opponent can beat me. I don’t underestimate anyone but I don’t know it’s just in me…that will…that drive. I can’t really explain it. You have guys who are very gifted athletically…which I believe I am…you have athletes out there with extremely hard work ethics, but there’s something else. I don’t think it’s just a coincidence that the things that are happening…are just happening. I believe in God and I pray a lot. I’m just going to continue to work hard. People are going to say what they want to say. I’m just going to be the best that I can be.
I don’t let the hype get to me because I know when I’m doing good everybody is going to say certain things. There are fair weather fans and there is fair weather support. You start doing bad and they have all bad questions to ask and say about you. That’s how I handle it. I’m not going to get thickheaded.
MT: How do you train? Do you train with fury? Is training more of a therapeutic thing for you in a sense you are doing what you do…this is your element and training is simply a way to get better?
SM: It’s not about me. When I’m out there running, eating this healthy food all the time…and I really want some hamburgers and french fries…I stay disciplined because I know I’m doing this for my family. I’m doing this for my children when I’m training.
When I’m in the ring…whomever I’m facing is trying to derail me from that. They are trying to stop me from putting food in my family’s mouth. That’s what it is. I know I’m going to be alright. I have a college degree. I’m a decent person. I can take care of myself.
I made a decision to have a family…to have children and I’m going to do the best thing I know how to take care of them. Boxing does that for me.
MT: What do you want for yourself in boxing outside of becoming a champion?
SM: I want my health. I want to end my boxing career and still be healthy. Hopefully, I’ll have financial security. I want my kids to say well “Daddy wanted to play basketball…he couldn’t play basketball so he played football but he injured his knee and now he’s boxing. He had a healthy career.” To know that I won’t give up. I’m gonna keep trying and persevere.
MT: Was the knee injury a blessing in disguise?
SM: I believe everything happens for a reason. I guess you can look at it like that. If my knee were healthy, I would be in the NFL. There’s no doubt in my mind. If something happened to me that I couldn’t box, of course I’d be down for a bit but I’d pick myself up. I’d be alright. God has his play for everybody.
MT: Are you beginning to feel the groundswell from Michigan State…the Go Green…the Go White?
SM: I’ve always had a close relationship with people there. I talk to about five or six people on a regular basis. I talk to a lot of my teammates. I hear a lot from people on facebook and twitter giving me so much support.
MT: The camaraderie of boxing. The respect for the pugilist art. Fans or not, I’m sure you would still fight each other in an empty gym. Could you speak to the respect you have for fellow boxers in and out of the ring?
SM: It takes a different breed. It takes a different type of man…whether you have a winning or losing record, to get in that ring. I have the utmost respect for anyone who does it. I was over in Iraq with the troops and they were saying they couldn’t believe I get in that ring and actually fight. That they couldn’t dare to do it. Wow. They are over there fighting for our country and putting their lives on the line and they wonder how I do it? We have a mutual respect for each other because we know what it takes to make it in this sport. How hard we have to train. How lonely the sport is so yeah the respect is there.
MT: Are you realizing the opportunity you have being you are one of the few American fighters…American heavyweights with true potential and talent? Do you think about the legacy of heavyweights?
SM: It’s something I think about often. Sometimes when I run, I envision myself winning a championship fight. I day dream. Each and every fight, I’m one step closer. It’s becoming a reality for me. I have to do my best to reach my goal. I hear and I see other people talking about the pressure of being the so called next great American heavyweight. The hope. Things of that nature but no one puts more pressure on me than myself. I believe in myself. I believe I’ll be champion sooner than later. I can’t wait until that day comes. All the day dreams…and for it to become tangible it’s going to be a special moment.
MT: The important people in your life. Your family, friends…handlers. What are you feeling from them in terms of support on your path to become a champion?
SM: They are helping me because they don’t look at me as Seth Mitchell the boxer. I’m just a regular guy to them. Not only are they my trainers and managers…they are my friends. I’ll call and we’ll go out to dinner and not talk about boxing. We’ll talk on the phone about vacations or just every day life. They’ve always been there when I need them. From my mentor Maurice Banks to my son Seth Austin Mitchell, my wife…they help all the things that make up this boxing guy but I’m just Seth Mitchell when I’m around them.
They are good people. I’ve always surrounded myself with good people. People that have goals and aspirations and that’s helped me throughout my career development in and out of the ring. If I want to talk about boxing, we’ll talk boxing and I trust their boxing insight; when I want to talk about life and forget about boxing they are there as well.
MT: When you are in the locker room after a fight and your gloves are being cut off, what are you thinking about after a victory when you’re cooling down?
SM: All of the training. In boxing, you are climbing a ladder. An L (loss) can set you back 2, 3, 4 fights…which is about a year. I can’t afford to have any setbacks. I really can’t have…at this point in my career to have a bad performance.
It’s time for America to realize Seth is the real deal…
So after all the hard training, putting in road work, cutting weight, leaving my wife alone…you know what I mean…after all that? It’s gone. I can relax and feel good for about two or three weeks and start all over again. I feel so good man. It’s just a good feeling to know you put your work in and stuck to your game plan. You know there’s a short window to celebrate. I look at my wife when I’m going through that and I know we are going through it together. I say to her I can’t wait to this one is over with and the next I say the same thing. It’s a continuous cycle.
It’s what I signed up for.
MT: When you walk into a ring, do you see fear in an opponent and does that make you get the fight over quicker?
SM: When I was younger…when I was in high school…when I was a captain and the captains would go out to the middle of the field…and I was under the impression that if they don’t look me in my eyes or they drop their eyes I got ’em and they’re scared. In the state championship game this happened and they were looking all around instead of in our eyes and they beat us 49-8.
Valuable lesson learned so I don’t look too much into that. Some people don’t look into your eyes on purpose and come out and try and kill you.
I go in the ring with the aim of being prepared and if I’m prepared we’re going to see what happens.