News and Views on the Heavyweight Division
By Johnny Walker
“I’m not a braggadocios person. There is no false bravado here. I handle my business when I get in the ring” – Seth “Mayhem” Mitchell
He doesn’t cuss on television and trash talk his opponents.
He loves his wife and will tell you so.
He’s a gentleman.
And he’s an American heavyweight boxer.
You might say that Seth Mitchell, as a person if not as a fighter, resembles the world heavyweight champion Klitschko brothers far more than he does what has become, since the rise of Cassius Clay/Muhammad Ali and peaking with “Iron” Mike Tyson, the typical American heavyweight.
Whether that is a plus or a minus for him with the American boxing public–a good portion of whom, whether they will admit it publicly or not, really still covet the maniacal persona of Tyson at the depths of his depravity—remains to be seen.
The reason gangsta rappers like Tupac Shakur wanted to get close to Tyson was for some of that authentic street cred that Tyson brought with him. While Shakur was an effete arty type who playacted a villain role that eventually swallowed him up, Tyson didn’t have to act: he was the real thing, street thug raw and genuinely unhinged (perhaps Tupac is rolling in his grave, then, at the Prozac-ed, people-pleasing, Las Vegas celebrity version of Iron Mike making the rounds today).
Yes indeed, Mike Tyson was savage inside the ring and out of control outside of it, and he is still the ideal model of an American heavyweight for much of the boxing public, both American and otherwise, who grew up watching him.
Seth Mitchell couldn’t be more different.
Instead of snarling about eating someone’s children and threatening to anally rape boxing reporters, Mitchell talks about finishing his college degree, about the sacrifices his law student wife made for him and how deeply he appreciates her, and admits that he isn’t yet the finished article as a fighter. The “mayhem” with Mitchell is confined to the squared circle.
On occasion, Mitchell even has good things to say about the Klitschko brothers, for heaven’s sake – is this guy really an American?
All kidding aside, I find Seth Mitchell a breath of fresh air. The whole Stagger-Lee/gangsta thing is culturally played out anyway (somebody please tell James Toney), and in troubled economic times such as these, a positive role model is a welcome thing. If a few kids are impressed by Mitchell and follow his example instead of turning to the thug archetypes of recent American heavyweights, that can’t be anything but good.
So I’ll be rooting for Seth to come through with flying colors against another classy American heavyweight on Saturday night in Atlantic City, Chazz Witherspoon. No offense to Chazz, but Mitchell’s continued success is crucial if the heavyweight division is to re-ignite in America.
One warning, though, to Seth: those gentlemanly Klitschko brothers are talking about you a lot lately.
They’ve got you in their sights and will be calling your name even louder if you beat Witherspoon.
It’s still early in your career, so beware.
No need to rush into anything.
Time is on your side.
We know what happened to other potential American heavyweight saviors like Calvin Brock and Cristobal Arreola when they met up with the Klitschkos.
The heavyweight champion brothers from Ukraine have a habit of sidetracking and even ending promising boxing careers before they really get going.
You might say it’s their specialty.
So slow and steady wins this race.
And best of luck on Saturday night.