Wars to Be Made in 2012—Part 4

By David Matthew on January 18, 2012
Wars to Be Made in 2012—Part 4
The potential matchup between Seth Mitchell and Helenius is intriguing for several reasons

In facing the nearly 6’7” and 240-lb. Helenius, Mitchell would be facing a fighter equivalent in size to either Wladimir or Vitali Klitschko…

(This is the fourth of a five-part series)

Seth Mitchell (24-0, 18 KOs) vs. Robert Helenius (17-0, 11 KOs)

While watching Seth “Mayhem” Mitchell deconstruct former Olympian Timur Ibragimov in DC last month, I couldn’t help but be excited at the prospect of Mitchell facing a super heavyweight-sized contender and wondered just how promising a potential Klitschko-Mitchell bout might be. It’s a bit premature to call for Mitchell to test the Klitschkos, who remain supreme champions reigning far above the rest of the fray. But Mitchell’s performance against Ibragimov—a thoroughly experienced and skilled boxer—was sufficiently dynamic to warrant contemplation of how he’d fare against the two giants of the division.

Mitchell’s powerful display of thundering left hooks and looping overhand rights was so exciting to watch that the usually pessimistic and unimpressed Larry Merchant even exclaimed with bright-eyed excitement that he wanted to watch Seth Mitchell “over and over again!”

For Finland’s Robert “Nordic Nightmare” Helenius, 2011 did not conclude as his team had hoped.  After an unimpressive performance against England’s Derek Chisora last month, Helenius was awarded a controversial split decision victory in a fight that most experts thought Chisora won. That decision momentarily halted the considerable momentum Helenius had created by thoroughly exciting boxing fans with dynamic knockout performances against former world titleholders Lamon Brewster, Samuel Peter, and Sergei Liakhovich. Helenius deserves credit for being unafraid to test his mettle en route to an eventual showdown with one of the Klitschkos. Had he dominated Chisora, it would have made sense to make a match rather quickly. Instead, with doubt over his performance against Chisora still persisting, followed by shoulder surgery this week in Heidelberg, Germany to correct a long-standing injury that failed to heal itself, Helenius will have to work his way back to title contention.

The potential matchup between Mitchell and Helenius is intriguing for several reasons. For Helenius, it would be a legitimate test to see if he is still the same thrilling combination puncher after his shoulder surgery. If Helenius could defeat Mitchell—the top American prospect—it would further solidify his status as an imminent threat to the Klitschkos. For Mitchell, a win against Helenius would be another step up in competition that would help determine just how good he is and can be. While Mitchell has been managed brilliantly thus far—gradually stepping up his competition to mirror his rapid development in a sport he has only been mastering for a half-decade—a fight against Helenius would be his first test against a fighter the super-sized heavyweight division. In facing the nearly 6’7” and 240-lb. Nordic Nightmare, Mitchell would be facing a fighter equivalent in size to either Klitschko. While Mitchell was able to impose his size and strength surprisingly easily against Ibragimov, it remains to be seen he can do the same against the two stars of the division. If he can defeat Helenius, there is even more reason to ramp up the excitement level that Mitchell has deservedly attracted amongst fight fans.

Beyond all the logistics, this fight would definitely appeal to fans who have been waiting far too long to see a legitimate slugfest in the heavyweight division. While both Helenius and Mitchell possess considerable technical skills, enabling them to box strategically when necessary, it’s clear when you watch their fights that what makes them special is their ability to shift into an extra gear and put together thundering combinations that wobble their opponents. While Helenius and Mitchell might elect to box the first few rounds, jaw-dropping exchanges are inevitable when you consider that both guys, with their stalking, come-forward mentality, have a demonstrated proficiency at clinically finishing off hurt opponents.

I recently spoke with Mitchell, who stated that he plans to fight four times in 2012 and is getting ready for a fight in March against an opponent to be named. Having had the privilege to spend some time with Mitchell to get some firsthand insight into his personality and character, there’s no doubt that he will put his talent to the test, committing himself to elite level conditioning and preparation as he continues his journey deeper into the sweet science. This is a welcome and refreshing change for American boxing fans that seem to have lost hope with American prospects who consistently disappoint because of a lack of commitment to conditioning and/or a lack of willingness to put it all on the line once they’ve been given the opportunity. Mitchell is an intriguing mix of God-fearing humility and warrior-grade bravado that speaks volumes in the ring. He’s somebody you can’t help but root for, and it looks like 2012 is the year we may find out just how good the top American heavyweight of the moment really is.

Follow us on Twitter@boxing_com to continue the discussion

Seth Mitchell vs Timur Ibragimov 11.12.11 HQ Full Fight!! NEW AMERICAN HEAVYWEIGHT STAR

Seth Mitchell | Andrae Carthron 1/1

Seth Mitchell vs Hector Ferreyro 16/09/11

Robert Helenius vs Attila Levin Round 1 & 2 AWESOME TKO .mpg

Robert Helenius vs Siarhei Liakhovich - Part 1 of 3

Robert Helenius vs Siarhei Liakhovich - Part 2 of 3

Robert Helenius vs Siarhei Liakhovich - Part 3 of 3

Robert Helenius vs Samuel Peter KNOCKOUT

Robert Helenius vs. Dereck Chisora (1/4)

Robert Helenius vs. Dereck Chisora (2/4)

Robert Helenius vs. Dereck Chisora (3/4)

Robert Helenius vs. Dereck Chisora (4/4)

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  1. the thresher 02:56pm, 01/21/2012

    David Price won today by first round KO. He now becomes a factor in the heavyweight division.

  2. the thresher 12:49pm, 01/20/2012

    Sergei “The White Wolf” Liakhovich would be a perfect matchup with Mitchell.

  3. the thresher 12:35pm, 01/20/2012

    Davis, Chris was an accomplshed amateur with a fine record. Mitchell was not.

    Chris has faced world-class opposition and has done well. Mitchell has not.

    Chris is a proven quantity. Mitchell is not.

    Chris is now in shape. We really don’t know if Mitchell is because his stamina has not yet been put to the test.



  4. David Matthew 02:35pm, 01/19/2012

    thresh i think it’s more likely than the reverse….Travis Walker had Arreola buzzed & hurt as he was a bigger guy who exposed Arreola’s wide-open defense.  I think Seth is certainly a notch better than Walker, and I don’t necessarily think Arreola has markedly improved since then…

    the only reason Vitali wasn’t able to stop him was because Vitali largely throws all arm punches now, and doesn’t get his core/legs into his punches at all anymore…

    I think the fight goes into late rounds and Seth stops him.

  5. the thresher 02:08pm, 01/19/2012

    “Seth stops Arreola” Davis, you jest?

  6. David Matthew 12:51pm, 01/19/2012

    Also understood on Seth’s late-bloom in boxing…but I don’t think it’s entirely impossible…I know the conventional wisdom is to say he should’ve never laced them up at such a late age…but given the barren landscape of the division…he is mowing down guys with fairly adequate class (even mowed down an Olympian)..i do think it’s possible to learn sufficient craft in 5 years…particularly when you are as gifted and physically prominent as Seth is.

  7. David Matthew 12:49pm, 01/19/2012

    Appreciate the comments…I also would like to see Seth matched w/ Arreola…thought about that but they are both advised by Haymon and thus i don’t see them being matched….but it would be intriguing.

    That said - I think Seth stops Arreola.  I actually think Seth is the clear superior boxer in terms of craft…and Arreola’s leaky defense is permissible only because he’s usually being hit w/ smaller guys who can’t punch that hard.  I don’t think he’d stand up well to Seth’s overhand rights, which I think would land time and time again on Arreola.

    On the flip - Mitchell has never been hit by a guy like Arreola…and I think Arreola’s experience and ability to throw/land bombs under duress would serve him rather well against Mitchell…and he would land some leather…I just think Mitchell would be the harder puncher.

  8. the thresher 11:06am, 01/19/2012

    IMO, Seth has been brought along perfectly. He is the first solid football crossover fighter since Charlie Powell.

    He has power and stamina, but needs to be tested on the chin.

    Maybe Arreola would too much for him at this time, but a Tye Fields sounds ok—or even a Monte Barrett. But my personal choice would be Bermane “B. WARE” Stiverne who beat Helenius and Price in the amatuers.

    David Rodriguez, Chambers and Helenius are out because of injuries so the pickings are a bit slim.

  9. Cheekay Brandon 08:00am, 01/19/2012


    Agreed entirely. Sounds like we’re both wary of the same thing.  And this isn’t to say anything bad about Mitchell—I think the tools are there.  And David knows him, and I trust his word about Mitchell’s personality and work ethic.

    Like you mentioned: rarely in the heavyweight division is talent so prodigious that it is automatically great without being put through fire and improving slowly.  That was the case with Cassius Clay….it was clear from the Liston fight that he was great…..not sure I can say that about a heavyweight since then (not even Tyson).  Even great ones like Holmes improved gradually (his sparring with Ali during the ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ helped).

  10. the thresher 07:48am, 01/19/2012

    The Nordic Nightmare will not be fightinmg for a very long time as his injury and subsequent operation is one that will take a long time from which to recover. Thus, this match up is academic and we now need to find a another opponent for Mitchell. I like Arreola but I’d settle for Tyson Fury or maybe evn David Price or Ustinov. Also Kingpin is making some noise again.

  11. "Old Yank" Schneider 07:45am, 01/19/2012

    Cheekay—Adding to your “hidden trait” comments… when we acknowledge who the great heavyweights in history were a common “trait” seems to get revealed. By-and-large, they all took the old school path to developing their craft. It’s tough if not impossible to find any short-cut examples of heavyweight greats. And my fear is that Mitchell is not going to be the first short-cut heavyweight to break that tradition of common traits. Bottom line: I see fine entertainment value in Mitchell but am very skeptical that we might have a great one in the making.

  12. Cheekay Brandon 07:35am, 01/19/2012

    Fantastic work yet again, David. 

    This series legitimately has me excited and is the perfect type of article for the post-Mayweather/Pacquiao era….like you always say, its time to move on.

    I like this matchup and am of the belief that these two are as promising a threat to challenge for the title as we’ve seen in the Klitschko era. 

    Mitchell impressed me in his recent fight.  Helenius definitely impressed me (before Chisora).  I would have put my money on Helenius before the Chisora fight, because I’m wary of athletic big punchers….I was in that camp that hyped Arreola and Sam Peter for years.  I still think Peter could have been the one, but he seemed to fall flat in his progression at some point.

    I think this is the hidden trait in heavyweight fighters: how well do they learn. For whatever reason, big guys get really fixated and refuse to improve.  This is specifically what has made Wlad so great—he grew, changed and improved as well as any heavyweight I’ve ever seen (other than maybe Lennox Lewis…ironically both had the same trainer)

  13. "Old Yank" Schneider 07:30am, 01/19/2012

    David—I agree, this would be a match worth watching—for its excitement factor and for all the developmental, pecking-order reasons you make. My one issue with Mitchell is that he was such a late-comer to the sport that he is relying very heavily on his natural athleticism. He might be a gifted athlete but not necessarily as gifted as a fighter as his record or last performance suggests. In keeping with some of the old school arguments of what it takes to make a champion, my bet is that many old-timers might suggest that Mitchell has taken a shortcut that will haunt him should he ever meet up with in-prime, old school technical skills in the future. P.S. I’m enjoying this series a lot!

  14. the thresher 05:01am, 01/19/2012

    “The shoulder problem revealed itself already six weeks before the controversial December title bout against Britain’s Derek Chisora.
    “Helenius’s father Karl considers the fact that his son was allowed to box against Chisora was “a major cockup”.
    “According to Karl Helenius, coach Ulli Wegner from the German Sauerland team, in which his son boxes, wanted Robert Helenius to train and fight against Chisora, even though the shoulder injury had already manifested itself.”

  15. the thresher 04:56am, 01/19/2012

    Helelnius won’t be fight for a long while now that he has undegone surgery in his shoulder.

    Now the big Brits have to step forward. Price and Fury, etc, and make some interesting fights.

  16. the thresher 04:54am, 01/19/2012

    How about Mitchell vs. Arreola with winner fighting Eddie Chambers?

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