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Seth Mitchell Has His Work Cut Out for Him

By: José A Maldonado MFA


This weekend we got to see how a rising heavyweight contender – an American no less – responds to adversity.  For the first time in his career, Seth Mitchell was under heavy fire and it looked like he was on his way out early, shaken badly by Chazz Witherspoon in the first round.  Surely some fight fans watching live and at home began writing him off, labeling him as hyped and limited.  Mitchell, meanwhile, gathered himself, stayed poised, and provided us with an incredible display of discipline and determination.


After a second round in which the former Michigan State linebacker got his rhythm back and shook out the cobwebs, Mitchell came out guns blazing in the 3rd.  He caught Witherspoon with a devastating left hook that dropped the Philadelphia fighter, only to stop Witherspoon against the ropes in the ensuing exchange.  As he celebrated in his corner, the boxer nicknamed “Mayhem” sobbed openly, knowing that he had just dodged a bullet that may have seriously hindered his aspirations in the near future.


Now many are calling him a star in the making, a heavyweight who starved American fans can root for.  He sells tickets and has an exciting, come forward style, and his being a world champion is not far-fetched but. . .not so fast.


Before you hand him a contract to face the Klitschkos, or even Fury or Helenius, Mitchell has a lot to work on and, at 29 years of age, a small of window of time to complete that work.


Like what, you ask?  For starters, Mitchell has poor head movement, making him susceptible to the right cross.  He relies too much on covering up rather than
making himself a moving target.  He also has a tendency to pull back and away, an amateurish move that has proven costly to many professionals.  According to HBO’s Punch Zone statistics, Mitchell got tagged 29 times to the left side of the head which is precisely where Witherspoon’s right hand was aiming.  At only 6’2, a better defense is crucial if Mitchell is to find success against heavyweight giants.


Additionally, Mayhem has to work on his footwork since, currently, he has none to speak of.  He allowed Witherspoon to dictate his position in the ring as Mitchell merely plodded toward him, not cutting off angles or switching positions, tactics that do well to take a bigger fighter’s balance away.  Though his power is an asset, he cannot rely so much on it.  Granted, he got the stoppage, but in a fight against an elite opponent, he will not get away with loading up on every punch.  Mitchell needs to not only conserve his energy for the championship rounds, but also work on his stamina since, though it was only Round 3, he was already sucking in air.  How would he look in Round 11?  12?


This is not an article to rain on Mitchell’s parade and simply bash him.  He certainly has many tools that will make him a handful for any opponent.  He throws a variety of punches from different angles and is not afraid to let them fly.  His power has never been a question and it will allow him to always be in any fight, regardless of how it’s going and, as proven against Witherspoon, this guy has tons of heart and will never go down easily.  But, at the risk of sounding like Teddy Atlas (he refused to have his former fighter, Alexander Povetkin, fight the Klitschkos), he’s simply not ready for the big time just yet.  His last two wins have been impressive and against tough opposition.  Considering boxing isn’t his first sport, Mitchell’s current position in the sport is a testament to his incredible drive.  But now it is up to his team to get him ready for the division’s major players.  They cannot afford to be content with this performance.  He’s getting the increased exposure, now it’s time to go back and watch the tape and work on the aforementioned flaws.  If he can address these deficiencies and continue improving, Mitchell can very well cause a lot of mayhem in the heavyweight division.


José A Maldonado is senior staff writer at and contributing writer for

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