Seth "Mayhem" Mitchell put a scare into his biggest supporters tonight, but ultimately came away with a third round TKO win over Chazz Witherspoon in an action-packed heavyweight brawl tonight on HBO from Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.
In the opening round, Witherspoon (30-3, 22 KO) started well with his jab and technical superiority, and then began landing good, strong right hands that hurt Mitchell, wobbled him, and took the former Michigan State football standout's legs from him.
But he survived the round, and in the second round, the still-learning prospect showed savvy beyond his boxing years, settling the fight down and establishing his space in the fight. The turnaround surprised Hall of Famer trainer and HBO commentator Emanuel Steward, and I dare say surprised most watching. It felt for all the world like the moment where a hyped fighter's bubble was burst. Instead, it showed exactly what Seth Mitchell is made of.
In the third round, Mitchell (25-0-1, 19 KO) landed a good right hand to the head and a flush left hook to the chin, putting Witherspoon on the canvas. After that, Mitchell's patience paid off, as he didn't go headhunting. In fact, it was his hard, determined, and consistent body work that opened Witherspoon up and wore the Philly native down so quickly, and led to the stoppage later in the third round.
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With Witherspoon reeling against the ropes, referee Randy Neumann ruled that the ropes were holding Witherspoon up, and called a knockdown. As he counted, he took a good, hard look at Witherspoon, and stopped the fight. It was a good stoppage, as Witherspoon was starting to get beaten up.
You couldn't have asked for much more out of this fight. Seth Mitchell has a lot of work to do still, but he showed an ability to take clean shots from a guy who isn't weak, survive, and turn a fight around. Those are important traits.