When heavyweight prospect Seth Mitchell of Brandywine, MD., takes on Timur Ibragimov of Uzbekistan on Dec. 10, he will be facing the most difficult challenge of his career.
The 36-year-old Ibragimov (30-3-1, 16 KOs) is coming off a split-decision loss to former cruiserweight titleholder Jean Marc Mormeck (36-4, 22 KOs) in December, which ended his winning streak of nine straight victories, including three stoppages.
Ibragimov's biggest win was perhaps his unanimous decision in June of last year over Oliver McCall, whose fifth-round knockout of Lennox Lewis earned him the vacant WBC title in February of 1997.
"I'm working extremely hard for this fight," said Ibragimov. "I have seen Seth Mitchell fight and I know he's a good prospect, but I'm too experienced for him."
"This is a step up in name and competition," said Mitchell (23-0-1, 17 KOs). "But you know me, man, I'm sure that he'll be ready. But in my heart and in my mind, I feel that I'm ready for this step up."
"I don't feel that I need a knockout. In all of my fights, even though I've knocked out 10 of my last 11 opponents, I really don't go out there looking for a knockout. We have a thing called 'textbook,' where we stay behind my jab and finish up my combinations and keep my defense tight. If I go out there and I stay within textbook, then I think that we can get the same result. That's what I've been doing. I haven't looked for the knockouts, they've been just happening for me."
Mitchell will face Ibragimov on the HBO-televised undercard of a main event featuring WBA/IBF junior welterweight beltholder Amir Khan (26-1, 18 KOs) defending against Lamont Peterson (29-1-1, 15 KOs) at the Washington Convention Center.
As the co-feature on Khan-Peterson, Mitchell is part of the first fight in Washington, D.C. since Kevin McBride ended Mike Tyson's career with a sixth-round stoppage in June of 2005.
Khan-Peterson also brings HBO to the Nation's Capitol for the first time since Riddick Bowe defended his WBA heavyweight belt with a second-round knockout of Jesse Ferguson on May 22, 1993. On the Bowe-Ferguson undercard, Roy Jones unanimously decisioned Bernard Hopkins for the IBF's middleweight belt.
"I'm definitely excited to be fighting back at home in front of my fans and on a big stage as the co-main event on HBO," said Mitchell, a graduate of Gwynn Park High of Prince George's County, where he played football as a star linebacker and was named Maryland's Defensive Player of the Year as a senior.
"Ibragimov is my toughest opponent yet on paper, as far as his record and the quality of opposition that he has faced. I'm looking forward to a great fight, and I'm sure that Ibragimov will come to the fight prepared. Come December 10, I will be mentally and physically prepared as well. I am expecting the fight to be tough, but at the same time, I plan on coming out victorious."
Nicknamed, "Mayhem," Mitchell is considered by some to be America's best chance at ending its heavyweight championship drought.
"We have a couple of things and tendancies that we've seen that he does on tape," said Mitchell. "My trainer, Andre Hunter, he does a great job of breaking the opponent down and coming back to me and relating it to me. We'll develop a game plan from there."
"This fight is a true test for Seth Mitchell. He is fighting on HBO against a 'take-no-prisoners' power puncher," said Richard Schaefer, CEO of Golden Boy Promotions.
"I have no doubt that this is Seth Mitchell's time to shine and I can't wait to see him take on Ibragimov on December 10 and continue his rise as the next great American heavyweight."
No U.S.-born fighter has held a heavyweight title since 2007, when Shannon Briggs briefly wore the WBO's strap. In 2006, Hasim Rahman of Baltimore held the WBC belt while the IBF title was held by Chris Byrd.
Puerto Rican-American John Ruiz was the first Latino to have a belt when he became the WBA champ in 2005.
Source: Mitchell will meet his toughest opponent yet in Ibragimov