This global Corona Virus meltdown has got everyone from top of the food chain all the way down spooked, but more disturbingly has been exacerbated by the resultant catastrophic economic meltdown. So hunker down, stay safe with good health habits and social distancing, secure stocks of food, water, medicines, and other essentials, and then sit back in contemplation of some of the greatest, most contrary nightmarish stylistic matchups ever proposed until this storm passes.
Azumah Nelson and Brian Mitchell were both well overlapped in their shared era, yet could never fight because Mitchell was not only Out Of Africa, but also out of the South African Apartheid Regime that he had nothing to do with politically much like Max Schmeling never had anything to do with Nazis in Germany. Both Mitchell and Schmeling were pressed into national military service by conscription, conscription generally being a temporary national subclass of slavery.
Mitchell, 45-1-3, 21 KO has the more numerically robust record compared to Nelson, 38-6-2, 27 KO, but Nelson has the most great names in his record. Mitchell was never knocked out with Nelson knocked out once upon a time by all time great Salvador Sanchez in one of the greatest fights in history. Mitchell is 3 years younger, so indeed we can easily match them prime to prime irregardless of any national apartheid restrictions by politics and promoters.
As such, for the best of Nelson I’m picking his 1984 KO of prime HOFer Wilfredo Gomez in another tough fight where he proved his mettle, his greatest fight in my view where he turned the knockout tables on one of the greatest KO artists of his day. For Mitchell, I’m going with his lopsided decision against undefeated, prime fellow boxing stylist Jim McDonnell in 1988. Ideally we could match these road warriors in any of their away sites, but first know that Nelson will always be considered the greater fighter because of showy evening American fights well broadcast in primetime hours whereas Mitchell retired at age 30 after a career of swimming against the apartheid tide sans any really big names willing to fight him.
Here’s a nice article by Ring’s Anson Wainwright to fill in that popularity gap that is just outstanding in revealing not only the boxing class of Mitchell, but the absolute class of the man himself. We find out who gave him his only loss, a fellow South African by decision, yet then fought him 3 more times resulting consecutively a draw, split decision, and finally a tragic KO that resulted in his opponent’s death.
So, this proposed fight has Nelson and Mitchell within a year’s age of each other in their best fights. Nelson for some reason was known as The Professor in spite of a face first, pressuring style designed for maximum punishment for both combatants. He forced the great, yet only 23 year old Salvador Sanchez into a slug out of epic proportions, but I don’t know if Mitchell can pull that sort of a knockout out of his magnificent tool box. Certainly he can outbox Nelson, so the result turns on whether his stamina and chin can hold the fort down for the full 12 rounds.
The fight is at the 130 lb superfeatherweight limit over 12 rounds in 6 ounce gloves contested in a standard 20′ ring.
Thus I favor Mitchell in a 60/40 type split of chances. Others certainly will disagree because of the perception that Nelson is the greater fighter, but remember, every greater fighter lost to a lesser fighter if they fought long enough under fair officiating, and Nelson lost to more lesser fighters than did Mitchell who only lost to one early in his career quickly avenged. Local fans tended to vociferously boo Mitchell upon introduction that changed to cheers by the end of the fight, because by the end, his boxing class and gameness could never be denied.