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Mayhem Vs One Man Riot: Seth Mitchell Talks to RSR about his Saturday Showdown with Derek Bryant

Interview by Jeff Stoyanoff and Mike Zepeda

“I could become Heavyweight Champion of the World.”” – Seth “Mayhem” Mitchell

The heavyweight division is a void in boxing that needs to be filled. The Klitschko brothers are outstanding fighters, but they are too nice and too dominant. They can’t carry the division and, predictably, the proof can be found in a void. A void of televised coverage; that’s right, the heavyweight division is no longer on TV as everybody is tired of watching the Klitschko’s decimate what appear to be listless and completely overmatched opponents. Nobody even cares if it is that the Klitschko’s are too good or the opponents are that bad. All that seems to matter is that it is bad TV.

The compelling challenger in the division is a void as well. Tomasz Adamek continues to win with one workmanlike performance after another, but it’s hard to envision that he can upset either of the brothers. Alexander Povetkin is an unbeaten former Olympic Gold Medalist, but even his trainer thinks he is not ready for a date with a Klitschko and, remarkably, it looks like he agrees. And then there is David Haye. In a division devoid of edgy drama and compelling fights, Haye appears to offer too much of the first and not enough of the second. Last, there is the final void, the lack of a compelling American Heavyweight. That void has existed for so long we can almost forget that it exists.

Seth “Mayhem” Mitchell, 17-0-1, 11 KO’s, is talented and eager. Mitchell is just now beginning the long ascent to the title shot he covets. But, he nonetheless represents that which is so clearly missing in what will always be the ultimate glamour division in boxing, a compelling American Heavy. Mitchell recently came off of an impressive win over Johnnie White, 22-2-0, 18 KO’s, scoring a 2nd round TKO in what was thought to be the first real test of his young career. Now, Mitchell prepares to answer another challenge against the dangerous Derek “The One Man Riot” Bryant, 20-5-1, 17 KO’s, Saturday in Las Vegas.

It is too early to tell if Mitchell will be able to weave himself into the story of the flagging heavyweight division. And, it may be far too daring to wonder if Mitchell may prove to be the next dominant American Heavyweight. But, Seth Mitchell is eager to gain his shot and perhaps get people talking about the heavyweight division again. Who knows, by the time it happens, his big chance might even be on TV.

JS: You have your next fight coming up with Derek Bryant. How has your camp gone?

Camp has gone well with my trainer and I. I am in great shape. I am just excited to get out there and take care of business on the 31st.

JS: What have you been able to learn about Derek Bryant as a fighter? And, what do you feel like you need to do against him in order to have success in this fight?

I know that he is a southpaw and an aggressive fighter. He shows a good straight left hand. It shouldn’t be a problem as I have fought a lot of southpaws down here. In this particular fight I want to come out and dictate the pace. I want to negate his advantage by moving to my right and then definitely attack his body because he hasn’t been in the ring in awhile, so I just want to see where he’s at.

JS: You are coming off a big performance in a step up fight knocking out Johnnie White in May. How would you assess your performance in that fight?

I thought I did very well. I thought I dictated the pace with my jab. There were a couple of times when I pulled back and my hands were down and that I didn’t like. But, overall I grade myself very high on that performance; especially my jab. I had a beautiful jab that night and it pretty much dictated the fight. I could have won that fight with my jab, but there were a couple of things I can work on like not pulling back with my hands down. One time he touched me with a little hook. It didn’t hurt me, but if that was a big punch or came from a big puncher it could have been a different story.

MZ: You were talking about Johnnie White and how if he was a bigger puncher there could have been a problem in that fight. Derek Bryant does come in with an impressive KO record with 17 of his 20 wins coming by knockout. How do you plan to combat what he brings in terms of his style in the ring? Does he like to use the jab? And, will you look to use a straight right hand as he is a lefty who likes the straight left himself?

I have definitely been working on throwing the lead right hand; that is a punch that gives a lot of lefties problems. As far as Derek Bryant, I am really not too concerned. I know I have to keep my hands up and I know he throws a good left hand. So, I am looking to negate his left hand by moving to the right and keeping my hands up, but he’s basically going to have to deal with me. I feel like I am in great shape so I am not too worried about what he is going to bring to the table. I know what I am going to bring to the table and that is somebody that is going to be aggressive, somebody that is going to be technically sound throwing punches in bunches, and somebody that is going to come out with a lot of power and a great jab.

So, as far as Derek Bryant, I don’t take him lightly; he does have 17 knockouts out of 20 wins. But, Johnnie White had 18 knockouts out of 22 wins, so I have been in there with somebody who has a high KO percentage so I have that under my belt as far as facing Johnnie White. I was nervous for that fight because I had never fought somebody with a record like that, so that was a learning experience for me. But, now I have done that so like I said, I’m well prepared for this fight and I am anxious and excited to be on that stage, but he is going to have to deal with me come the 31st of July.

JS: You were talking about the nerves facing a guy with a record like Johnnie White. I am sure you were still confident, but stopping him early like you did, confidence aside, did you even surprise yourself when you were able to do that?

It didn’t really surprise me. I don’t go into a fight looking to bulldoze my opponent. I just go in knowing the god given abilities that I have. I have great power, I have good speed, and I have power in both of my hands. So, I just feel that if I execute my game plan I am going to give a lot of people problems. That is why I say they are going to have to deal with me when they step in the ring with me. My trainer Andre Hunter does a great job breaking down film if it’s available. We only have a little bit of film on Derek Bryant that came from you tube, and that was from a couple of years ago. He shows good speed and he is aggressive, and he has a dynamite left hand and that is something that I am going to be aware of. But, if he comes out too audacious and doesn’t show me any respect then it could be another short night.

JS: Let’s take a step back from the recent performance and the upcoming bout with Bryant. Yours is not the typical path to boxing as you came to the sport later than most. Can you talk a little about how boxing came into the picture for you?

As you know I was a Big 10 football player at Michigan State University playing middle linebacker. I was watching The Contender one day and they had one of those ESPN newsflashes and they showed that Tom Zbikowski, the safety from Notre Dame that I had played against, was having his pro debut. And, I just got inspired by him. I can honestly say that if I hadn’t seen Tom Zbikowski in his pro debut you probably wouldn’t be doing this interview right now because I had never thought about boxing before. It was just an opportunity to continue since my football career was over due to knee injuries; to continue in athletics and to make a career and the rest is history.

MZ: We know you have the athletic background especially playing at the level of football that you see in the Big 10. But, you also mentioned the knee injuries, do those injuries have any impact on your ability to really sit down and throw punches as hard as you can in the ring?

As of right now it doesn’t; it’s amazing. I just thank my lord and savior Jesus Christ because I can’t play football at that level. Even today, it would be hard for me to play football, but it really doesn’t affect me in the ring at all and it doesn’t affect my training. Every now and then my knee might get a little swollen or I might develop a little tendonitis, but that’s just from being an athlete. But, other than that I have no problems with my knee and I am just excited that I am able to perform at a high level.

JS: When I first read your story the first thought that came into my mind was that you could hardly find two sports that are more different than Football and Boxing. Football is perhaps the ultimate team sport with you out there as one player, covered in pads, almost anonymously executing your role in a given scheme. While, in boxing, you are truly on your own, exposed to the world, dependent on nobody but yourself in a given contest. But, having said that, is there anything that you can take from your experience in football that can help you as you continue to grow as a fighter?

Boxing and Football are totally different. I have said on numerous occasions that boxing is way tougher mentally and physically than football. But, it is hard work in any sport; in any sport you have to have hard work, you have to be dedicated to your sport, you have to train hard inside and outside of the gym. If it’s running, it it’s doing your core work, if its studying tape or film, you have to do all of that. I just think in football you have to study the formations of your opponent so you can familiarize yourself and then be ready to make plays and I think that is a good carryover for me in boxing; being dedicated and doing stuff on my own. Not just waiting for my trainer to call me to get up to run or to go over things with my trainer. I think that is what I can take from football over to boxing and it has helped me a lot.

JS: There is a lot of excitement and optimism surrounding your career in terms of having a chance to be an impact American fighter in the Heavyweight division. We spoke a couple of weeks back with another undefeated fighter, Matt Remillard, who has around the same number of fights as you. He told us that what he felt like he needed next was to really be challenged by an opponent who could take his best and come back with his own and really draw him into a fight that would test his heart and his boxing ability. Again, there is a lot of focus on where you would like to be eventually, but what do you feel like you need right now, in your next fight or two, as you look ahead to where you would like to be eventually?

I think my management and Golden Boy are doing a great job with moving me. I think I am out of that category of fighting journeymen. When I was 14-0, I was fighting opponents who were like 20-20, they had a lot of experience and they had fought a lot of good fighters. But, I think I am out of that category and right now my management and my promotional company are putting me in fights with, not big names, but guys who are 22-1 and 20-5 and I think I have maybe another two fights like that and then I’ll step in there with fighters like Chazz Witherspoon and fighters of that caliber; definitely starting next year. So, definitely next year I will be stepping into the ring with both up and coming contenders and fighters of my caliber, you know 20-0, 21-0, just to prolong my career and get me the experience and to get me ready for the title shot if someone were to call.

JS: As you look around the heavyweight division today it is pretty plain to see that it is being dominated by Europeans and Russians for the most part. However, one simple historical truth is that nobody can make an impression in boxing like a dominant American Heavyweight. It seems like it can carry the entire sport. How cognizant of that reality are you? And how do you maintain your focus on the steps you must take to get there when you see the kind of opportunities that exist as an American fighting in the heavyweight division?

I am very cognizant of it and I think about it a lot, but I try not to let it overwhelm me. But, like I say, the people that know me they know the type of person that I am. They know the character that I have and I wouldn’t have become involved in boxing if I didn’t truly believe that I could become Heavyweight Champion of the World. And like I said, I think my management and promotional company is doing a great job and I can literally see it coming. I just have to keep learning; I’m pretty much just being a sponge right now. But, at the same time, there are some fighters in the top 25 right now that I feel I can beat. But, there is no substitute for experience. So, I understand how my management and promotional company is moving me. I don’t think it will be long; sometime in maybe 2012 if I keep doing what I am doing, I’ll get that call for a title shot.

MZ: You spoke about learning at this point and at 17-0 you clearly have had success in the ring. But, many successful fighters have also seemed to possess a more natural penchant for fighting. Have you always been aware of a natural ability to fight that came before a decision on your part to even get involved with boxing?

Definitely, when I was younger I used to get into a lot of fights. But, I hadn’t been in a fight since the 8th grade. Besides, boxing professionally and in the amateurs my last fight had been in the 8th grade. But, a lot of my friends when I said I was boxing, they weren’t surprised at all because I have always been big, but when I was in fights I wasn’t the type who would just try to grab and grapple and throw you on the ground and use my strength; I would throw my hands. So, I knew I had a good chance of being successful boxing because I could always fight. I would always square up and a lot of people they would lead with their strong hand and grab with their other hand. But, I didn’t have to get turned around; my right hand is my strong hand and I always fought in a conventional style. So, that’s just stuff I did when I was younger; not saying I’m bragging about it because I’m not. But, I did get in a lot of fights which isn’t good as you should talk things out. But, I did handle myself pretty well when I was younger.

JS: One of the things that we have taken to asking about is the prevalence of PED’s in boxing as it has certainly become a story in the last year or so in particular. You have an interesting background for this particular subject as you come from an extremely high level in another sport which handles the situation quite differently in organized football. Understanding that experience, how big of a problem do you think these kinds of substances can be in boxing?

I think it’s a big problem. You hear stories of records being broken or extraordinary games being played and then you come to find out that they were not clean. But, it’s an even bigger problem in boxing because it’s not like you are playing tennis or riding a bike or hitting a baseball; you are going out to throw punches and dish out bodily harm. So, I think the sport definitely needs to be cleaned up. I think across the board there should be stricter drug testing. I think if that were to happen it would be great for the sport of boxing because you are literally punching on somebody instead of just playing tennis or something, so it would be great for the sport.

JS: You come from a sport where certainly the testing is far more stringent. Amazingly, the testing in boxing is not even random. Does that surprise you? Or even upset you a little as a fighter?

I think it’s a big problem. There are a lot of things out there that you can do where if you are not on the up and up, if you are not clean, you can take things to get out of your system. If you know when someone is coming to test you then you know exactly what you have to do to get yourself clean. So, I think this is a big problem especially in a sport where you are dishing out bodily harm, so I think it definitely needs to get cleaned up.

JS: Maybe we can finish up by looking back and looking ahead. Could you have ever envisioned that boxing would have been a career path for you? And, not that you are here, what do you hope to accomplish in boxing?

I definitely did not think I would have ever gone into boxing. As I said, if I hadn’t seen Tom Zbikowski I wouldn’t be having this interview right now. In anything I do, I want to be successful. I want to be remembered as one of the best guys in the Heavyweight Division long term. And, I hopefully can be financially secure so I can support my family and eventually have this be a platform for something else. I don’t want to box and then be forgotten. I want this to be a platform for other things for me and my family.

Seth Mitchell
Nickname: “Mayhem”
Division: Heavyweight
Professional Record 17-0-1, 11 KO’s

Date Opponent W-L-D Location Result

2008-01-18 Mike Miller 2-8-1 Pikesville, US W UD 4
2008-02-29 Maurice Winslow 1-4-1 Pikesville, US W TKO 1
2008-03-22 Alvaro Morales 2-0-3 Cabazon, US D PTS 4
2008-05-29 Alexis Cruz Medina 0-3-1 Glen Burnie, US W TKO 2
2008-07-23 Henry Namauu 2-1-0 Cabazon, US W KO 1
2008-08-15 Ryan St Germain 2-2-0 Washington, US W TKO 2
2008-09-25 Mike Miller 5-12-2 Glen Burnie, US W UD 6
2008-10-24 Shidevin Brown 2-3-0 Cabazon, US W UD 4
2008-11-07 Dan Whetzel 9-14-2 Upper Marlboro, US W TKO 1

2009-01-23 Jason Bergman 8-7-2 Woodlawn, US W TKO 5
2009-03-07 Joseph Rabotte 3-4-0 San Jose, US W TKO 1
2009-04-10 Andrew Greeley 14-25-2 Baltimore, US W UD 6
2009-06-26 Alvaro Morales 3-5-5 Tucson, US W UD 6
2009-08-14 Andrae Carthron 3-2-2 Tucson, US W KO 1
2009-10-24 Jermell Barnes 18-22-2 Washington, US W TKO 6
2009-12-20 Zack Page 19-26-2 Fort Washington, US W UD 8

2010-04-02 Ryan Thompson 9-8-0 Washington, US W TKO 3
2010-05-07 Johnnie White 22-1-0 Albuquerque, US W TKO 2

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