ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- Seth Mitchell and Chazz Witherspoon let it all hang out before Mitchell rallied for a third-round knockout in a tremendous slugfest Saturday night at Boardwalk Hall on the undercard of the rematch between light heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins and Chad Dawson.
The fight between college graduates was filled with fireworks from the outset, but it did not look like Mitchell -- widely hailed as America's best heavyweight prospect -- would make it out of the first round.
Witherspoon had him in terrible trouble, as he backed Mitchell up and was teeing off with right hands. Mitchell's legs were shaky and he nearly went down, but he survived the round in a somewhat stunning scene.
Witherspoon was so dominant in the round that it would not have been a surprise had any of the judges given it to him 10-8. He landed 24 of 39 power shots, according to CompuBox statistics.
But Mitchell, a former Michigan State linebacker who has been a pro fighter for only four years, came storming back.
He abused Witherspoon to the body in the second round and rocked him with a right hand, and then poured it on even more in the third.
Mitchell dropped Witherspoon with a left hook early in the third, but Witherspoon survived to continue the action-packed round. Eventually, though, Mitchell landed numerous hard shots that forced Witherspoon to sag into the ropes. Referee Randy Neumann at first began to count because the ropes held Witherspoon up, but he decided to call off the fight at 2 minutes, 31 seconds with Witherspoon in no shape to continue.
Mitchell (25-0-1, 19 KOs) closed the show by outlanding Witherspoon 51-11 in power shots in the second and third rounds.
"I've been working on my right hand. I was countering him and hitting him with the right," Mitchell said. "I knew he was coming to fight. I'm gonna be honest: I was a little nervous for this fight. He had a lot of experience, and I know in the heavyweight division it only takes one shot. I saw it in his eyes he was coming for me.
"But I never stopped using my body shots. They were slowing him down, and he had no defense for my body shots."
Witherspoon (30-3, 22 KOs), 30, of Paulsboro, N.J., blamed himself for getting wild and head hunting after he rocked Mitchell in the first round.
"I got a little excited after I had him hurting," said Witherspoon, a cousin of former two-time heavyweight titlist Tim Witherspoon. "I never got back to fighting smart. He dealt with adversity great. I was fighting a stupid fight after I got him hurt and I was just looking for the knockout. He has great athletic ability."
Mitchell, 29, of Brandywine, Md., knew going into the fight that an exciting performance would move him closer to a world title shot against heavyweight champion brothers Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko. The Klitschkos, who fight primarily in Germany, have expressed interest in returning to the U.S. to defend their titles. To do that, the Klitschkos obviously want an American opponent, and they have mentioned Mitchell as a possible challenger.
First, Mitchell is expected to return to action June 30 in Washington, D.C. One name Golden Boy, his promoter, is discussing as a possible opponent is former title challenger Michael Grant.
Porter cruises in ring return
Akron, Ohio, junior middleweight Shawn Porter (19-0, 14 KOs), one of boxing's top prospects, returned from a 14-month layoff to score a sixth-round knockout of 39-year-old journeyman Patrick Thompson (18-18-1, 8 KOs) of Chicago in their scheduled eight-rounder.
Porter, a standout amateur who just missed making the 2008 U.S. Olympic team, was on the fast track but was knocked off course in a contract dispute with promoter Prize Fight. Making his return, Porter, 24, was welcomed back to the ring in rude fashion by Thompson, who opened a cut over his left eye in the first round.
But Porter -- who gained some notoriety in recent years as a key sparring partner for superstar Manny Pacquiao -- regrouped and handled his business. He was much faster and sharper than Thompson.
Porter was cruising when the fight came to a sudden end in the sixth round. Porter staggered Thompson with a left hand, and referee David Fields stepped in to stop it at 1 minute, 39 seconds during the follow-up assault.
• Lightweight prospect "Baby Face" Mike Faragon (17-0, 8 KOs) of Syracuse, N.Y., easily outpointed Sergio Rivera (16-9-2, 10 KOs) of Mexico in a quick-paced eight-rounder. Faragon, 24, who has a fan-friendly style, outclassed the 30-year-old Rivera, boxing circles around him and landing a lot of shots, including many hard right hands. In the end, he was the obvious winner, 79-73, 79-73, 78-72.
• Light heavyweight Lavarn Harvell (10-0, 5 KOs) thrashed Tony Pietrantonio (7-9, 6 KOs) en route to a massive third-round knockout. Harvell, of Atlantic City, dropped Pietrantonio, of Sharon, Pa., in the first round with a right hand to the chin. Harvell pounded on him for the rest of the fight until landing a flush combination that knocked him out cold 31 seconds into the third round. Pietrantonio hit his head on the edge of the mat and was down for several minutes receiving medical attention before making it to his feet.
• Junior middleweight Julian Williams (9-0-1, 4 KOs) of Philadelphia outpointed Hector Rosario (7-2-2, 5 KOs) of Puerto Rico on scores of 79-73, 79-73, 78-74. Although Rosario landed his share of punches, Williams outworked him throughout the bout.
• Toronto junior middleweight Phil Lo Greco (23-0, 12 KOs), who recently signed with Golden Boy Promotions, survived a first-round knockdown to soundly outbox Hector Orozco (5-11) of Minneapolis en route to a unanimous decision. Lo Greco wasn't hurt badly by a flash knockdown and cruised to a 59-54, 58-55, 58-55 decision in the first fight of the card.