Seth Mitchell: The Sensation of Taking a Serious Power Punch

By Kieran Mulvaney

Heavyweight Seth Mitchell (left) absorbs a power shot from opponent Chazz Witherspoon during the Hopkins-Dawson undercard in Atlantic City. Photo Credit: Will Hart

It’s the ultimate gut check, the moment when a boxer takes a punch that temporarily relieves him of his senses and his equilibrium. It is a moment when he stares at the prospect of sudden defeat and career derailment. It can happen to any fighter.

It’s happened even to Floyd Mayweather, who was rocked twice by right hands in the second round of his contest with Shane Mosley two years ago. The crowd at the MGM Grand that night roared itself almost hoarse in anticipation of a sudden, shocking knockout; instead, it was Mosley who failed the gut check, who, when Mayweather found his legs and fired back, tensed up and lost every minute of every subsequent round.

The night-altering power punch happened last week to Seth Mitchell, the undefeated heavyweight prospect who, in the opening stanza of his fight with Chazz Witherspoon in Atlantic City, took one right hand and then another and then another. Somehow, he survived the round, came out firing in the following frame, and dropped and stopped Witherspoon in the third.

“I knew I was hurt,” said Mitchell on Thursday, as he relaxed in the press room at the MGM Grand. “Cognitively I was there. I saw him, and I could see he knew that he had hurt me. So I was like, ‘I see him coming to me. Grab him. Don’t be macho. Grab him.’ But my legs weren’t there. My mind was there. But I had spaghetti legs. Until I saw the fight [on TV] I didn’t realize I was that hurt. When the ref separated us, I did a little wobble. But I never saw triple Chazz Witherspoons or double Chazz Witherspoons. I just wanted to grab him and survive the first round. And once I survived the first round, I knew I couldn’t have another round like that, and I couldn’t stay on the end of his jab.”

The gut check can go one of two ways. Failure to answer – swiftly, and with authority – begs questions that can result in defeat and deflation. But passing the test can elevate a boxer to another level.

“It definitely makes me more confident,” said Mitchell. “At the same time, I don’t want to go through that again. Because it’s scary, man. Not at one time when I was in trouble did I think, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s about to be over. What am I going to do?’ Not one time did I think that. But after the fight was over, all of it hit. ‘Wow, I almost got knocked out in the first round. That would have set me back four or five fights, a year, fifteen months.’ That’s when all of that hit me, and that’s why I got so emotional.”

It is little surprise that Mitchell identifies Miguel Cotto – like the heavyweight contender, a practitioner of the seek-and-destroy style of boxing – as his favorite fighter. But he does not think that the Puerto Rican will have the opportunity to ask the questions of Mayweather that Mosley did, or that Witherspoon asked of him.

“Cotto can crack. And Floyd has shown that he can get hit, but he’s shown that he can come through adversity,” he noted. “In his last couple of fights, he ain’t been moving, he’s been standing right there in the pocket, putting that shoulder up and sharp shooting. He’s a surgeon in there, and we already know he’s got the dog in him. If you want to stand there and bang with him, he can do that too, and he got the best defense out there. So it’s going to be an uphill battle for Miguel Cotto.”

This Time Around, Dawson Leaves No Room for Controversy

By Michael Gluckstadt

Bernard Hopkins, Chad Dawson - Photo Credit: Will HartBernard Hopkins danced, he mugged and he pushed, but he didn't connect. All the head games in the world can't land punches, and tonight, the 47-year-old Hopkins didn't. His opponent, Chad Dawson, shrugged off Hopkins' antics—which included a full-on tackle in the 11th—and outhustled the fighter 18 years his senior for a majority decision victory and the WBC and Ring  Magazine light heavyweight titles.

Before a crowd of 7,705 mostly Hopkins-supporting fans at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, Dawson got the better of most exchanges and landed the cleaner shots. According to CompuBox numbers he connected on 35 percent of his punches, and 48 percent of his power punches, while Hopkins landed just 25 and 30 percent, respectively.

Leading up to the fight, Hopkins had been reticent about the rematch with Dawson—though Dawson had no problem talking about the controversial no-contest at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, which ended with Dawson slamming Hopkins into the mat and separating his shoulder in only the second round. Through the first four rounds in this fight, both fighters were feeling each other out, throwing fewer than 10 punches per round.

Read more on HBO.com

Fighters and Fans Weigh In on Hopkins vs. Dawson II

By Michael Gluckstadt

Bernard Hopkins, Chad Dawson - Photo Credit: Will Hart 

Bernard Hopkins doesn't have anything left to say. But he still has to say it. He kicked off a tense media session with boxing reporters earlier with the weary preamble of a man who's done it all before. "We should all understand this," Hopkins said. "Nothing else needs to be asked about Bernard Hopkins, so don't do press conferences when you know the book on this guy. We can't predict what's going to happen until it happens. So what are you going to ask a guy after two decades and four years?"

Hopkins took the same workmanlike attitude with him to the scales, where he weighed in at 173.5 lbs, glared for a bit, and left the stage. This was just after his opponent Chad Dawson came in at 174.5. Dawson has been decidedly more vocal in the lead up to the fight, a rematch of a controversial no-contest that had originally been ruled a KO for Dawson. Since that night, Dawson has maintained that he had no choice but to slam Hopkins down to the canvas, if only to keep the fighter 18 years his senior from pushing down on his back and wearing him down.  This time, Dawson wants to leave no doubt. "We have a good plan," he said earlier this week. "I am not thinking about a close decision. I don't see it happening that way at all."

Dawson and the oddsmakers see things one way, but Hopkins and the fans see it another. "I wish I were more of an underdog, so that my guys could make some money," he deadpanned. On our HBO Boxing Facebook poll, Dawson earned 65 percent of the 1730 votes cast. On Twitter and HBO.com, the results were slightly more even.

 Here's some more of what you had to say:

  • Hopkins will enjoy this rematch as much as he enjoyed his rematch with Pascal. Hopkins by Decision, with enough energy to do push ups between rounds. V. Varricchio (HBO.com)
  • easy  boring win for dawson, last fight for bernard.  i would hope it aint so but really i rather see him lose this way n quit than get beat up – Shaka Z. (HBO.com)
  • Going the full length, split decision B.Hop! - @PrimeJock_LLC (Twitter)
  • Dawson wins by close decision when BHop comes on late but fails to close. #HopkinsDawson2 - @AtomFry (Twitter)
  • although the first fight was hideous, i am looking forward to this fight.. i believe that dawson looked like he was going to destroy B-hop in the first fight. dawson came prepared and this time he has more to prove.. dawson will be the first guy to knock out B-hop..  B-hop makes history again, but this time in the loosing end. – Manos D Fuego (HBO.com)
  • I see @THEREALBHOP having his moment, with @OfficialBadChad's youth prevailing in a decision. #boxing - @12RounderBoxing (Twitter)

Check out the slideshow at HBO.com.

Hopkins Is No Stranger to Rematches

By Kieran Mulvaney

Jean Pascal, Bernard Hopkins - Photo Credit: Ed Mulholland

When Bernard Hopkins faces Chad Dawson on HBO World Championship Boxing on Saturday, it will be the seventh occasion on which he has fought the same opponent a second time. Of the previous six, one came soon after an initial encounter that Hopkins had comfortably won; one came many years after a bout he had clearly lost; one was an immediate rematch of a fight that cost him the middleweight title; two followed draws; and one, like Saturday’s fight with Dawson, succeeded a bad-tempered grudge match that ended in a bizarre no-contest.

Hopkins is renowned as a cerebral and adaptable boxer, and ring smarts and adaptability have played a key role in The Executioner’s remarkable rematch record of 5 wins and 1 defeat. He’ll aim to improve that against Dawson.

Here’s how events unfolded in his previous second chances:

Roy Jones, Jr. (L12, May 22 1993; W12 April 3 2010)

The first encounter was the inaugural title tilt for both future Hall-of-Famers; despite the excellence of their subsequent careers, the middleweight bout was unremarkable. Their second battle, which didn’t take place until Hopkins was 45 and Jones was effectively shot, was unwatchable, but it enabled Hopkins to secure his long-desired revenge.

Segundo Mercado (D12 December 17 1994; TKO7 April 29 1995)

In his next attempt to win the middleweight crown, Hopkins struggled to adapt to the altitude in Mercado’s native Ecuador and was floored twice before escaping with a draw. In the rematch, closer to home turf in Maryland, Hopkins left no doubt, and stopped Mercado to begin his lengthy championship reign. 

Robert Allen (NC  August 28 1998; TKO7 February 6 1999)

Hopkins’ seventh title defense was an ugly affair; in a bizarre finish, referee Mills Lane pulled the two men apart from a clinch with such force that Hopkins fell through the ropes and onto the floor, twisting his ankle and forcing a no-contest decision. In the aftermath, Allen taunted Hopkins, claiming he had quit; a focused and enraged Hopkins dominated his opponent in the rematch. (The two men fought a third time in 2004, with Hopkins winning convincingly on points.) 

Antwun Echols (W12 December 12 1999; TKO10 December 1 2000)

Hopkins won the first meeting comfortably enough, but Echols’ power rocked the champ once or twice along the way. The rematch was a foul-fest that was highlighted, if that’s the word, by Echols essentially body-slamming Hopkins to the canvas and injuring the Philadelphian’s shoulder in round 6, an act that resulted in the challenger being penalized two points; after a timeout, Hopkins elected to continue, ultimately stopping Echols with a barrage against the ropes in the 10th.

Jermain Taylor (L12 July 16 2005; L12 December 3 2005)

After a record 20 successful defenses of his middleweight title, Hopkins started slowly against the younger Taylor, who built up a big early points lead. Hopkins dominated down the stretch, but Taylor held on to secure a close and controversial split decision. The rematch unfolded much the same way: this time Hopkins stepped up the pressure slightly earlier, but an eleventh-round rally was enough for Taylor to secure another very narrow points win – the only rematch to date from which Hopkins has not emerged victorious. 

Jean Pascal (D12 December 18 2010; W12 May 21 2011)

As with Taylor, Hopkins fell behind early against light-heavyweight titlist Pascal, his cause not aided by two knockdowns, including one that the veteran insisted resulted from a punch behind the head. Once again, Hopkins was rampant down the stretch, but the early points hole was so deep that he could only secure a majority draw. Pascal started the rematch brightly enough, but this time Hopkins took charge earlier, ultimately dominating Pascal physically and psychologically and becoming the oldest boxer to win a major world title. 

Hopkins Has Beaten the No-Contest Rap Before

By Kieran Mulvaney

Chad Dawson, Bernard Hopkins - Photo Credit: Will Hart 

If it all seemed strangely familiar … well, it was.

Scene 1: October 16, 2011, Los Angeles

Bernard Hopkins leaned on the back of opponent Chad Dawson, who was ducking down to avoid a Hopkins punch; Dawson, depending on your perspective, either shrugged Hopkins off him or positively body-slammed him to the canvas. Hopkins injured his shoulder and grimaced in pain, and the referee called a halt to the bout. The California State Athletic Commission ultimately declared the result to be a no-contest.

Despite initially being dubbed the victor, Dawson reacted with contempt and fury at the turn of events, and accused Hopkins of seeking the easy way out.

“I was looking forward to a good fight,” he said. “I trained eight weeks for this ... Yes, he was faking [the injury]. This is a fight I wanted for three years, and Bernard obviously didn't want the fight."

“That was a blatant foul,” countered Hopkins. “That was not a boxing-like move,” added his promoter, Richard Schaefer of Golden Boy Promotions.

 

Scene 2: August 28, 1998, Las Vegas

Hopkins was making the eighth defense of his middleweight title, against Robert Allen. The early going was closely-contested, and referee Mills Lane had his work cut out breaking up a series of clinches. In the fourth round, the two men tied each other up and Allen effectively seized Hopkins in a headlock from which he was reluctant to release him, despite Lane’s best efforts.  Finally, Lane wrenched the two men apart, and Hopkins staggered backward, fell against the ropes and then through them onto the floor below. He injured his ankle, Lane called a halt to the bout and the Nevada State Athletic Commission declared the result to be a no-contest.

Allen insisted that Hopkins was faking. "He bailed out,” said the challenger. “He could have continued to fight. I think he just fell through the ropes and took a dive."

Hopkins laid the blame squarely on his opponent’s tactics. “It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that he's a dirty fighter … He should have been disqualified.”

Seven months later, Hopkins and Allen fought a rematch in Washington, D.C. Hopkins, infuriated by Allen’s jibes and accusations of diving, left nothing to chance. He dropped Allen in the second and sixth rounds and stopped him in the seventh. Five years later, he faced him again, knocked him down again, and beat him again.

“I had to come back and redeem myself,” Hopkins said later of his rematch victory.

Hopkins and Dawson meet for a second time on April 28, in Atlantic City. Hopkins will be aiming to enact his revenge and answer the doubters as emphatically as he did against Robert Allen. Dawson will be aiming to stop him.

Meet Seth Mitchell: The Next Great American Heavyweight Hope

By Kieran Mulvaney


Seth Mitchell - Photo Credit: Tom Hogan

Undefeated heavyweight Seth Mitchell takes on fellow American Chazz Witherspoon in the co-feature to the Bernard Hopkins-Chad Dawson rematch on HBO World Championship Boxing this Saturday. Mitchell hails from Brandywine, Maryland, played linebacker at Michigan State University, graduated college with a criminal justice degree, and didn’t begin boxing until he was 24 years old. After a brief amateur career, he turned professional in 2008, and enters Saturday’s fight with a record of 24-0-1 and a growing tendency to finish fights early: 15 of his 24 victims, including his last nine, have failed to last the distance. His most recent outing was a second round stoppage of Timur Ibragimov in Washington, D.C. in December, on HBO’s last card of 2011.

He spoke with InsideHBOBoxing last week, following a well-attended media day at his Maryland gym.

InsideHBOBoxing: Have you noticed the number of cameras and microphones are increasing as you climb up through the ranks?

Seth Mitchell: I’m definitely aware of it. I don’t let it get me big-headed or cocky or anything, because I realize this is a business thing, that all of this is happening because of what I do in the ring. I have fun with it, but at the same time, I keep everything in perspective.

There is of course an extra expectation because you are an American heavyweight, and this country has been starved of quality heavyweights.

It’s been a while in the heavyweight division since an American has held the belt and represented well, and there’s a lot of buzz, a lot of talk going around about myself. I’m glad that people are choosing me to bring back the American heavyweight division, but I’ll let them say it. I’d be lying to you if I said it didn’t feel good. But I know I just have to work hard to continue to get better and that’s what I’m trying to do.

Do you think the fact that you came to the sport a little late – you have an athletic background, but you also have life experience and a college degree – has helped you cope with the attention and keep your focus?

Definitely. A lot of people say, ‘My life is boxing, this is all I know,’ and that truly is not the case for me. Not just having my degree, but going to college, having that experience, getting more cultured, being around different people, and learning and seeing different things, it has definitely helped me out. If boxing were to end for me today, I’d still have something to fall back on, just with the experiences I’ve had in life, so it definitely helped me out.

In the meantime, obviously you’re taking your career step by step, and next up is Chazz Witherspoon. He’s 30-2, and he isn’t by any means somebody to be overlooked.

Chazz is going to come to fight. I’ve studied him, and my trainer has studied him. He has great fundamentals, he has an excellent jab, and he’s not afraid to let his hands go. So I’m expecting a tough fight and I’m excited, and I hope everybody’s going to tune in.

It wasn’t really that long ago that you decided to try boxing and now, here you are, fighting on HBO on the same card as Bernard Hopkins, an all-time great.

 I was thinking just the other day, remembering how on July 31 2010, I was the very first fight on the [Juan Manuel] Marquez-[Juan] Diaz card [in Las Vegas]. There were about 100 people in the arena, and about 30 of them were people who had flown down from Maryland to Vegas to watch me fight. And from there to now, being a co-main event on a Hall-of-Famer’s card, it’s truly amazing. I’m very fortunate.

Read More at HBO.com

Hopkins and Dawson Look to Set the Record Straight

By Eric Raskin

Chad Dawson, Bernard Hopkins - Photo Credit: Will Hart

The clichéd refrain heading into any rematch is “repeat or revenge?” but that question can’t be applied to Bernard Hopkins-Chad Dawson II. “Repeat” is a nightmare scenario for both fighters and for the sport of boxing. “Revenge” is not a possibility because nobody lost last time.

The objectives in this rematch are simple: Hopkins wants to prove he’s still great at the unfathomable fighting age of 47; Dawson wants to become the recognized champion of the light heavyweight division after a couple of controversial near-misses; and the fans want something that in no way resembles Hopkins-Dawson I.

Read More at HBO.com

Dawson Takes Title with Controversial TKO

Photo: Will HartEditor's Notes: After reviewing video of the fight as well as Bernard Hopkins' medical reports, the WBC later declared a technical draw in this bout. Bernard Hopkins retained his title as WBC Light Heavyweight Champion of the World. The story originally published on fight night follows below.

Ageless wonder. Modern day phenom. One in a million. It all fits the 46-year-old Bernard Hopkins, who Saturday once again set out to defy the odds of nature by defending his light heavyweight world title against Chad Dawson, who at 29 is 17 years Hopkins' junior.

But the 8,431 in attendance at Staples Center in Los Angeles never got a chance to see if Hopkins would be able to handle another young buck because of yet another bizarre ending in this crazy sport.

Compubox Analysis: Bernard Hopkins vs. Chad Dawson

By CompuBox

The last time we saw Bernard Hopkins he out-pointed Jean Pascal to become, at age 46 years 137 days, the oldest boxer to capture a major title. On Saturday Hopkins seeks to make history again, for should he defeat Chad Dawson he'll break George Foreman's record for the oldest man to successfully defend a widely recognized belt. "Big George" was 46 years 113 days old when he decisioned Axel Schulz to keep his IBF strap, and should Hopkins prevail, the mark will move to 46 years 284 days.  Dawson is a 7-5 favorite.

(Note: For those who cite Archie Moore, his 1916 birth year was confirmed by census records shortly after his 1998 death. Therefore, he was 45 years 190 days old when he defeated Giulio Rinaldi in June 1961, not age 48 as previously believed).

Lost in the shuffle is Dawson, who until recently was considered the best light heavyweight in the world and a rising star. Will Hopkins rewrite the record books again or will Dawson quiet the skeptics? Their CompuBox histories reveal the following trends:

> Read more CompuBox analysis of Bernard Hopkins vs. Chad Dawson on HBO.com

Bernard Hopkins Gets His Freak On Before Fight Night

By Kieran Mulvaney

Photo Credit: Ed Mulholland“I seen a lot of stuff I didn’t think was true,” said Bernard Hopkins. “Like a two-headed cow. It was freaky stuff.”

Hopkins was speaking of a recent visit to the headquarters of Ripley’s Believe it or Not, the famous purveyors of the bizarre and improbable, where he underwent a full body cast last year to create a life size likeness. It is testament to the implausible nature of the Philadelphian’s career that the proprietors of Ripley’s determined that it merited his being included among their exhibits, alongside the likes of The Mexican Vampire Woman and the aforementioned bi-headed bovine.

If that seems a slightly extreme evaluation, then certainly Hopkins’ career has by any measure been a remarkable one. A record twenty defenses of the middleweight crown and two spells as light heavyweight champ is by itself an impressive résumé, but the stats tell only a small part of the story. It can be plausibly argued that Hopkins has not clearly lost a fight since falling short in his first title shot, against Roy Jones, Jr., in 1993; of those who have officially defeated him since that time, Jones is a shell of a fighter whose win Hopkins has avenged; Jermain Taylor, who ended Hopkins’ middleweight reign, crashed and burned and has not fought in over two years; and Joe Calzaghe has retired.

Yet Hopkins keeps on ticking, and while there is so much more to his career than its longevity, that – and, inseparably, his age – are the twin themes to which it is so easy to return, and with good reason. As Hopkins prepares to meet the challenge of yet another young buck, Chad Dawson, in Los Angeles on Saturday, it is the element that he himself emphasizes.

“I want to look like his father,” Hopkins said of Dawson recently, referring to the gray flecks that now populate his hair and beard. “I could be his father. It’s appropriate for me to look gray and have gray. If you do the math, he could be my son. I’m 46, he’s 29, I had him early, it all fits into the scheme of the professor versus the good student who wants to be a great student.”

Ultimately, all good things must come to an end, as even Hopkins acknowledges. Whether it will be this Saturday at the hands of Dawson, or at a later date at the whims of Father Time, Hopkins’ career must eventually conclude. It is unlikely we shall see one quite like it ever again.

“I think everybody should just enjoy me while I’m here,” Hopkins says. “Because nothing lasts forever.”