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Seth Mitchell & Chazz Witherspoon Conference Call Transcript
SETH "MAYHEM" MITCHELL AND "THE GENTLEMAN" CHAZZ WITHERSPOON MEDIA CONFERENCE CALL TRANSCRIPT
To listen to an MP3 of the conference call in its entirety, click HERE
Thank you, everybody, for dialing in today. I'll tell you, we are feeling the heavyweights. We have on the phone with us both Seth "Mayhem" Mitchell from his training camp in Clinton, Maryland, which is right outside of Washington, D.C.; as well as "The Gentlemen," Chazz Witherspoon, calling in all the way from Oakland, California.
Speaking of Seth Mitchell, he will be hosting a media day next Wednesday, April 18th at 2 p.m. You will be receiving more information on that. Without further ado, I'm going to turn this over to Dave Itskowitch, Chief Operating Officer of Golden Boy Promotions. Dave?
Thank you very much, Kelly. Thank you, everyone, for joining us today. We are here for the Seth Mitchell vs. Chazz Witherspoon conference call. This fight is going to be a 12-round heavyweight fight for the vacant NABO heavyweight title. It will be the co-main event to Hopkins versus Dawson, which will be a 12-round fight for the WBC and Ring Magazine Light Heavyweight Championships.
The event is promoted by Golden Boy Promotions and Gary Shaw Productions. It will be happening Saturday, April 28th at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, televised live on HBO World Championship Boxing, beginning at 10:15 p.m. eastern time, 7:15 p.m. pacific time, sponsored by Corona, AT&T, and of course, Caesar's Atlantic City. We have tickets still available, but they are going very fast. We implore everyone to get their tickets before they are all gone because this is a hot-selling event.
Now, to say a few words, I'd like to introduce a gentleman I've known for quite a few years. He's very aptly named as "The Gentleman." He's the cousin of former heavyweight champion, Tim Witherspoon. He began boxing when he was a sophomore at St. Joseph's University in 2002. He impressively made the 2004 Olympic team as an alternate after fighting for less than two years. He graduated from St. Joe's in 2005 with a degree in pharmaceutical marketing.
He has an impressive knockout percentage of 22 of his 30 wins, coming by way of knockout. He is the winner of seven of his last eight fights. He has a record of 30 and 2 with 22 K.O.'s. From Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, "The Gentleman" Chazz Witherspoon.
How is everyone doing? I appreciate everybody for calling in. I feel good. I feel really blessed to have this opportunity to take this fight with Seth. I appreciate Golden Boy, and Seth, and everybody who made this possible-HBO. I'm just happy to be here.
Thanks a lot, Chazz. Now, to say a few words, another young man who is a heavyweight contender, who's bringing a lot of energy and excitement into his division. He is 29 years old. He's a former high school All-American and former standout linebacker at Michigan State University. A rarity these days when you can have a fight of any kind, but a heavyweight fight with two college graduates tangling.
He turned pro in 2008. He was named one of ESPN.com's Prospects to Watch for 2011, and is widely considered to be the United States' best chance for a heavyweight world champion. He's won nine fights in a row by knockout; four coming in 2008, and in his last fight in December of last year, in front of his hometown fans in Washington, D.C. In his HBO debut he knocked out Timur Ibragimov, handing him his first knockout defeat.
On April 28th he will be fighting in Atlantic City for the first time in his career. I know he's bringing quite a few fans up the road from the D.C. area. With a record of 24, 0, and 1, with 18 KO's, from Brandywine, Maryland, Seth "Mayhem" Mitchell.
Thanks, Dave. How's everybody doing? First, I just want to thank God for giving me this opportunity. I want to thank everyone that made this possible-Golden Boy, my team, my management. I want to thank Chazz for accepting the fight. I don't know about you all, but I'm very excited for this fight. I know Chazz is training extremely hard. I'm training extremely hard. It's going to be a good fight.
It's my first time being scheduled for 12 rounds. I know a lot of people are thinking, 'how's he going to do if he gets taken into deep waters?' But, this is what I do to provide for my family. I'm not worried about going the distance at all. I'm just excited about this fight. Again, I know Chazz is training hard, so it's just making me train harder. I'm excited. You all should be excited, too.
Like Dave said, this is the first time that-now I don't know if it's the first time, but to have two African American heavyweights who both have college degrees, getting it in, about to lock on. I respect Chazz. His record speaks for itself-30 wins, 2 losses, 22 KO's. I consider him to be fundamentally sound. He's a good technical boxer, and he comes to fight. He throws a lot of punches. He's just making me sharpen up my game, cross my t's and dot my i's.
Come the 28th of April, he's going to be ready. I'm going to be ready. I know a lot of people are saying that Chazz has been at this level two other times and he's came up short. I know he's going to train hard. They say this is like the nail in the coffin fight for him, but I feel the same way for me. I'm not finished reaching my goals, where I'm trying to go in my boxing career.
Now, I was laughing with my sister about three weeks ago. I said, this might be the nail in the coffin for Chazz if he loses this fight, but if I lose this fight, my coffin is going to be in production. I'm not ready for my coffin to be in production yet. I hope everybody-if you can't make it to the arena, definitely tune in on April 28th because you're going to have two heavyweights that are coming to put on a show. We're going to do our part, so you all just tune in. Thanks again for the opportunity. I really appreciate it.
Thanks a lot, Seth. I guess we'll now turn over to Q&A from the media.
Okay. Operator, if you could open the phone lines. I just want to say I heard two college-educated, graduated heavyweights. I think it's a first in boxing. Can't you hear it in their articulation? I love it. Please be mindful that they are both on the phone. If you can ask one question and then possibly get in another one for the other guy, that would be awesome. Okay, operator, go ahead.
Question for you here, I guess, first, you followed the cut of the career paths of other heavyweights, particularly Americans, like Mike Tyson, and Riddick Bowe, and those guys. Where do you compare yourself in terms of where they were in their career to where you are in your career now? Are you comfortable with being identified as the next American chance to win a world heavyweight championship?
I believe in myself. I'm very confident, but I'm not cocky. I let other people say all the accolades and give all the praise. I just continue to work hard. I do believe I have the tools to become heavyweight champion of the world. But as far as me saying that I'm the next great American heavyweight-I let everybody else say it. It sounds better when they say it. You'll never hear me say it. I'm just going to continue to try to be a sponge, work as hard as I can, and try to reach my goals. But I do believe that I have the tools to become heavyweight champion of the world.
My question, you mentioned that earlier in your opening remarks about the fact that Chazz had stepped up a couple of times and come up short. Those are the two fights he had against Areola and Tony Thompson. I wonder, those are two guys that have fought for the heavyweight title. Thompson is going to get another opportunity to fight for the title coming up July 7th.
I wonder, when you look and you see how he performed against those guys-I know you want to win the fight, but do you have it in your mind that you want to be as equally impressive as those two guys? Areola got a DQ win in the third round, but being honest, he was basically on the verge of knocking Chazz out. Chazz, in a good fight, got stopped I believe, in the tenth round by Tony Thompson. Would you like to put on an equally spectacular performance to measure yourself against these other top-ten heavyweight contenders?
Definitely. I would be lying if I said I didn't want to look impressive. My main thing is I want to get the "W," but I definitely want to go out there and be entertaining. It's an entertaining sport. That's why I'm back on HBO as the co-main event. At the same time, I'm not going to go out there reckless. I'm just going to dictate, stay behind my jab. I believe if I put my punches together and stay with my game plan, I could get him out of there. But, I'm definitely going to be prepared to go hard 12 rounds. I do want to be impressive. I don't want my knockout streak to stop. But at the same time, I'll go out there to be smart. But, I'm an entertaining fighter. Win, lose, or draw, I'm coming to fight and the fans will be entertained. But I definitely-I expect to win.
Is it at all difficult for you to strictly focus on the task at hand, but knowing in the back of your mind that as long as Seth Mitchell keeps putting together some wins, there is going to be a heavyweight title shot? I mean, the Klitschko brothers themselves have mentioned your name, have talked about you when they've talked to media when they've done conference calls and interviews prior to some of their fights, because they constantly are seeking an American opponent. Is it hard to stay focused, knowing in the big picture, that you keep doing things right, you're getting a chance to fight for one of the big titles?
To be honest, it's really not that hard for me because, exactly what you said, I have to keep winning. If I don't keep winning, all that talk is for nothing. I just have to take it one step at a time. To say that I don't think about it, I would be lying. I do think about it, but at the same time, I keep everything in perspective. I have a good team around me. I just continue to work hard. But I know all of my plans are contingent on me winning, and me looking impressive, and improving at each and every fight. And thus far, in my career, I feel that I have.
Chazz, I wanted to ask you something similar to that. Maybe by beating Seth Mitchell you don't automatically get in the front of the line to fight one of the Klitschko's, but how significant is it for you in this fight to take on a guy like Seth who has a lot of people talking, people thinking maybe he's going to be the future champ, going to be at least a guy to get one of those big opportunities? For you to take care of him, put those two losses in your step-up fights, and show that you can step-up a bit and handle that, and go out there and not only get the win, but look good also doing so.
I look at that and the question you asked of me, the way I look at it is people have yet to see me at my best. I just plan on going out here and putting out my best performance. Everything is starting to come together. Everything came together with this fight, and it came together out of nowhere. It was definitely a blessing to how I got with Virgil. I got the chance to finally go away to camp, my first time ever being at a camp, and getting good sleep and eating correct and training all the time.
Everything came together, I believe, for a reason. I plan on going out there and putting on a good performance. In both of those fights, in any of my losses-everybody knows me. Anybody who knows me knows that when Chazz Witherspoon comes into a fight, he's coming to fight. I'm a man's man. I come to rumble. I don't fear any man. When I fight Seth, I'm not going to come and fight him like I'm scared of him.
I'm not trying to say that all these other opponents were scared of him, but when you watch the fights, when they're fighting him, they're throwing punches just trying to keep him off of them. They're not really committing their punches. They're fighting scared, so to speak. I'm not a guy that's going to come in like that. My heart doesn't pump any Kool-Aid. I know Seth's heart doesn't pump any Kool-Aid. You're going to have two men in there that are trying to win a fight. I believe I'm going to have a good showing myself.
I just want to ask you one other thing, and you brought it up. You're now training, I believe, with Virgil Hunter out in the Bay area. First of all, who was training you prior to that, and what was it that led you to Virgil, and how has it been going?
Wade and Randy Hinnant were training me before I came to Virgil. Actually, my coach, Wade, is still going to be in the corner. Virgil is just going to be the number one in the corner. So we added Virgil in. That came about because I got with a new management team. It's called Jaw Breaker Management, and it's with a guy named Steve Russo and Ken Norton.
Ken Norton actually suggested me attempting to get with a new trainer and he mentioned Virgil. The funny thing about Virgil was the fact that I had a list of three trainers that if I ever worked with anybody else, the three guys that I would work with, and Virgil's name was on that list. The three names were Nazim Richardson, Virgil Hunter, and Barry Hunter.
Now that wasn't in any particular order. That was just the three names I had on my list, so if I ever worked with anybody else. When they mentioned Virgil, I talked with Virgil on the phone. I had met him before because me and Dre were roommates back for the 2004 Olympics, me and Andre Ward. I met Virgil back then. It kind of came together and I came out here.
I think I had a five-week camp, or something like that, for this fight. He's a brilliant man-brilliant, brilliant mind when it comes to boxing. Like I said, it's going pretty good. I'm a student. I'm an auditory learner, and he's somebody who knows how to make things make sense. He's a heck of a strategist. He just has a really brilliant mind when it comes to boxing.
Sounds good. To clarify one thing, Ken Norton that is part of your management team, he is not the former heavyweight champion, correct?
No, that is Ken. That's Kenny.
The former champion is part of your management?
I'm wondering, as we all know, training and conditioning is such a significant element in professional boxing. So often, that in the latter rounds, the winner is determined by the level of conditioning. I'm just wondering, since you've never been in a 12-round fight before, if indeed it goes into the later rounds, are you taking any special provisions or doing anything differently in your training to prepare you to go into a deeper fight?
Yes. As far as this, we do a lot of our training on a punch count, just picking up my punch, you know, 200 punches a round, 250-260 punches a round, and increasing my sparring rounds. Yesterday I sparred 12 rounds straight with various sparring partners coming in and out. Increasing my roll now, just doing the right thing. I'm always a fighter. If you look at my weight, I've always come in at a pretty good-because just to stay weight, the heaviest I've ever been going up to my average is 243 in 25 fights.
I'm not worried about going 12 rounds. This is my first-Chazz has never gone 12 rounds either, I don't believe. I believe he was scheduled to go 12 rounds once, but I don't know if he went 12 rounds. This will be new territory for the both of us. The conditioning part is the furthest thing in my mind. This is how I provide for my family. I'll never lose a fight from conditioning or underestimating my opponent.
Okay. In the past, some of your critics have talked about when you come under fire, rather than staying and countering, you have a tendency to step back, sort of regroup, and start the process over. Are you taking any necessary steps so that you can actually stay counter and then proceed forward in the fight?
That's what I'm working on. Whenever people ask me, what can I work on? It's countering off of my defense. We've been working on it. Like I said, I'm a student of the game and I try to get better each and every fight. I believe if you look at the Timur fight, the damage started when he was the aggressor and I threw two punches and a counter, and then came back with the left hook.
Those are things that we're working on. I'll continually get better. I'm just looking forward to an exciting fight. We've been working on some things, so hopefully I can take it from the ring and training to the ring in the fight. We'll see what happens. But I'm definitely excited.
I like your introduction about the two African American heavyweights, and like Kelly said, that are college graduates. I do think this is a first. Chazz, your first fight under Virgil Hunter, which fight was that?
This will be my first fight under Virgil Hunter.
This will be your first one. I'm just looking at your record. Your past nine fights you've lost twice. But the other fights that you won were all knockouts, including your last four. Have you made a concerted effort, as I guess you referenced to, to sitting down on your punches and challenging your opponents?
Yes. I think all that comes in time. I kind of started late, so it's tremendous what Seth has accomplished in the limited amount of time we've been boxing. But I came into boxing late as well, and I shot through the amateurs. I had a meteoric rise through the amateurs. It's kind of the opposite. Seth is having a meteoric rise through the professional ranks. I shot through the amateurs.
There is a lot of stuff we had to skip over. I had to just come in, throw a lot of punches, be busy, outwork people with the amateurs to get where I got in the amateurs-winning national gloves and all that. It was always constantly me having to try to go back to the drawing board. I turned pro with only a little bit under three years of experience. I think now I'm getting a little more seasoned, a little more mature. I am able to commit to my shots a little better. I believe I'm starting to come into my own now. I believe that's allowing me to land my punches better.
Questions for both of you. What, given the fact that you're both college graduates, if you hadn't been boxing, what do you think each of you would be doing? Chazz, what would you be doing with your pharmaceutical degree? What were your goals?
I believe I would have been a pharmaceutical rep. I would have been the guy that you see in the doctor's office with the briefcase, and he's going in and trying to get the doctor to write the prescription for whatever medicines that I would represent. I would definitely use my degree and utilize my degree. I have no problem with talking. I'd be a salesman, basically.
Seth, same question for you.
I don't know if I'd be a carrying a briefcase. Coming up I had a lot of mentors and things of that nature that kept me out of trouble and kept me on the right track. With my degree in criminal justice I probably would have tried to navigate towards some type of mentoring, helping young kids, the youth, somewhere in that aspect, because I didn't have a father growing up.
My mom and my father separated when I was five years old, but I had, through sports and things of that nature, I had a lot of mentors and counselors that really kept me on the right path. To give back that way, I probably would have tried to-even though my degree was in criminal justice, but try to navigate in that direction.
Okay. My last question for you, Se