It’s been years since an American heavyweight has captured the interest of the general public. Seth “Mayhem” Mitchell, who’s compiled a 21-0-1 (15 KOs) record since his 2008 debut, is Golden Boy’s hope to change that perception. A former college linebacker for Michigan State, the 28-year-old Mitchell has used natural athleticism to make up for his lack of seasoned amateur experience. He’ll now get his biggest exposure tomorrow night (May 13) when he faces Nicaragua’s Evans “The Sandman” Quinn on Showtime’s “ShoBox: The New Generation.” In this exclusive interview, Mitchell details his game plan, where his fellow American heavyweights are, and making the transition from the gridiron to the Sweet Science.
Beats, Boxing & Mayhem: You’ll be facing a mover in Evans Quinn tomorrow night. From what you’ve seen, do you feel he’s a liability on the inside?
Seth Mitchell: When you get up close to him he lets his hands go well. He doesn’t try to tie up so that’s a good thing. My game plan is to cut the ring, shorten the territory and keep my defense tight. He does throw good combinations and has good punching power according to his record.
Beats, Boxing & Mayhem: You did really well in your last fight throwing a lot of left uppercuts. You even scored a knockdown off it. Is that a punch you’ve been working on to add to your arsenal? It’s a punch a lot of heavyweights don’t use much.
Mitchell: Not necessarily, but I consider myself a smart fighter. When I was throwing my jab and right hand, he was getting underneath my right hand. I just made an adjustment when I threw the right hand to come with the uppercut. He was right there for it and I just continued to do it.
Beats, Boxing & Mayhem: You’ve been on ESPN before, so this isn’t your first time on TV. However, this is a bigger deal considering the boxing power Showtime has made itself into. Is there any type of different nervousness you’re feeling with this one?
Mitchell: It’s just like a regular fight. At the same time I know I’m on national TV. I do want to perform well. At this stage I don’t let that get to me. I know I have to take care of business. It’s not like I’ll go out there and force to get a knockout. I’ll have the same game plan. If I sense weakness I consider myself a good finisher. I’m going to go out there, stay composed and dictate the fight at my pace.
Beats, Boxing & Mayhem: A lot of fighters go into a reclusive zone as the fight nears. As a family man, is it difficult to get that warrior’s mentality in place while still being there emotionally for your wife and children?
Mitchell: Not really, man. I consider myself a gentle giant outside the ring. I love being around my family. I actually don’t like when I leave them; I don’t go away for training camp. I’ll come home and have dinner and help my daughter with her homework and change diapers. We have a newborn son that’s five months old. As far as getting up with him and everything, I leave that to the wife so I can get my rest. I relish being a family man. They give me my strength. It’s just another day at the office. Even when I’m tired I still have to give that attention to my daughter, son and wife.
Beats, Boxing & Mayhem: The old-timers would say a fighter should experience a loss before fighting for a title. You’re still undefeated but you have a draw. How did that experience help your career?
Mitchell: It prepared me for everything I go through today. I was well prepared but I was just young. People fail to realize I’ve had three and a half years as a pro. I came from football and started when I was 25 years old. It was my first time fighting on big stage in front of Golden Boy. I just froze. I thank God it was a draw and not a loss because we know this sport can be unforgiving. I taught me to never underestimate anybody. I fought him [Alvaro Morales] again and beat him in a unanimous decision. I definitely learned a lot.
Beats, Boxing & Mayhem: What were your biggest adjustments coming from the football to boxing?
Mitchell: First thing was I had to pretty much stop lifting weights. Then I had to learn how to relax. Playing middle linebacker where you’re taking on those fullbacks and linemen, you’re always tensed up and prepared for that collision. In boxing you have to relax so you can go rounds. After about two or three rounds you’re dead tired and still have to be able to roll with the punches. That was the hardest thing and breathing properly.
Beats, Boxing & Mayhem: What drew you to boxing?
Mitchell: I was watching “The Contender” and they were showing replays of Tom Zbikowski. He had been a safety for Notre Dame and I had played against him. Being from Michigan State we played each other every year. He had a pro debut in Madison Square Garden on Miguel Cotto’s undercard. It just inspired me to box because I saw him have success. The rest is history.
Beats, Boxing & Mayhem: Is it overblown or true that there aren’t a lot talented American heavyweights out there?
Mitchell: There are a lot of good heavyweights in the prospect stage. It’s just not on TV and getting that exposure like me. This will be my 23rd pro fight and only my third time on TV. It’s a business and you can’t rush it. You let it mature and be smart. From the general public’s view the heavyweight division isn’t that good. But there are a lot of guys like myself that can provide excitement. I hope to be the one to bring those belts back to the U.S.
Beats, Boxing & Mayhem: The division has a crossroads fight of sorts when David Haye and Wladimir Klitschko face off on July 2. How do you see that fight going?
Mitchell: With Klitschko’s height and power he poses a threat to anyone. He has a helluva jab and uses his height well. Then you have Haye who’s very athletic. I say athletic in that he’s fast but uses his legs well. He’s in and out real quick and also has punching power. He poses a threat to Klitschko. It’ll be a very intriguing fight and I’m looking forward to watching it.
Beats, Boxing & Mayhem: Going back to Quinn, what’s your opinion on his stamina?
Mitchell: I want to cut the ring off and keep the pressure on him. If I do that and put my punches together, I don’t think it’ll go the distance. I’m prepared to go the distance, but if I’m on my A game, I’ll be surprised.
Beats, Boxing & Mayhem: What’s the one Hip-Hop song that sums up Seth Mitchell?
Mitchell: Hmmm that a good question. I do know what song I’m going to come out to if I’m blessed to fight for the title, Eminem’s “Lose Yourself.” I like that track.
ShoBox: The New Generation airs May 13 on Showtime at 11:05 p.m. ET