Top American heavyweight prospect Seth "Mayhem" Mitchell will return to HBO for his second consecutive fight when he faces Chazz Witherspoon on April 28 at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J.
The fight will open the "World Championship Boxing" telecast headlined by the rematch between light heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins and Chad Dawson.
"It's a good solid fight and a good step up for Seth," Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer told ESPN.com after finalizing the bout with HBO on Monday. "It's a fight that makes sense for Seth and for Chazz Witherspoon."
Schaefer said the fight came together with HBO on Saturday when he was in St. Louis promoting welterweight Devon Alexander's decision win against Marcos Maidana. While Schaefer was there he said he met with HBO's Kery Davis and worked out the money and then got final approval from HBO Sports president Ken Hershman on Monday when they were together in Puerto Rico for the kickoff news conference promoting the May 5 Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Miguel Cotto HBO PPV fight.
"We've agreed to the fight and I just got the contract today, so I'll go over it and, assuming everything is in order, we have a fight," said Xavier James, Witherspoon's attorney and former HBO Sports executive. "Chazz knows he has to win in order to take that next step in his career."
Schaefer said besides Witherspoon, 30, being a good test for Mitchell, 29, the fight was also a good regional rivalry fight, which should help sell tickets. Mitchell is from Brandywine, Md., and has a growing fan base in the Washington, D.C., area while Witherspoon – whose cousin is former two-time heavyweight titleholder Tim Witherspoon -- is from Philadelphia.
"It is a fight that just makes sense," Schaefer said. "It's the perfect addition to this card because both of them can have their fans at the fight."
Sharif Salim, Mitchell's manager, has been targeting Witherspoon and was happy to get the fight made. Golden Boy tried to make the fight in August, but couldn't and the card was later cancelled when main event fighter Robert Guerrero suffered a shoulder injury. Then Golden Boy tried to make the fight for December, but they were apart on the money with Witherspoon.
"We finally got it made. (Witherspoon) came to terms and it's one of the fights we've been going after," Salim said. "Chazz is from Philly, Seth is from the D.C. area. I know we have busloads of people looking forward to going up for the fight. We thought this was the most exciting fight we could make right now for where Seth is in his career."
Mitchell and Salim were also in St. Louis on Saturday for the Golden Boy card and met with Schaefer to finalize their end of the fight.
"I'm very excited about the fight. We've been trying to get this fight for a while," said Mitchell, adding that he has been in the gym but will get down to serious training this week. "I'm excited that Chazz took the opportunity. It's gonna be a good fight. We're comparable in our experience, height, weight. He has a recognizable name. I'm really looking forward to the challenge. He has a good jab and good tools, but I believe I will be victorious."
Mitchell (24-0-1, 18 KOs), the former Michigan State linebacker who turned to boxing after a knee injury snuffed out his NFL dreams, made his HBO debut on Dec. 10 in Washington on the undercard of Lamont Peterson's upset decision against Amir Khan to win a pair of junior welterweight titles.
Facing his most experienced opponent, Mitchell was impressive blowing out veteran fringe contender Timur Ibragimov in the second round. Ibragimov had faced several quality opponents and never previously been stopped.
Witherspoon's only losses were against top 10 contenders. He was disqualified in the third round against Cristobal Arreola in 2008 in a fight in which he was getting battered when one of his cornermen entered the ring. Witherspoon rebounded with three consecutive victories before being stopped by Tony Thompson in December 2009.
Witherspoon (30-2, 22 KOs) is riding a four-fight winning streak, including a second-round knockout win on Feb. 4.
"Chazz Witherspoon can move, he has tremendous boxing pedigree, the guy can fight and he has a very good record," Salim said. "We knew HBO would approve him and, hey, I also like the human interest side of this fight. These are two guys who are smart guys, both college graduates."
Golden Boy and Salim are planning for Mitchell to fight four times this year. If he is successful against Witherspoon, Mitchell would return June 30, along with featherweight and 2008 U.S. Olympian Gary Russell Jr., the 2011 ESPN.com prospect of the year, on a card Schaefer is planning at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. Salim said after that they would like to have Mitchell fight in September and in December before pursuing a title shot in 2013.
"That's the plan but everything is contingent on me taking care of business," Mitchell said. "I'm looking forward to fighting at least three times this year, hopefully four, but April 28 is the first business I have to take care of."
Said Salim: "Seth has tremendous work ethic and is really coming along. He just needs the rounds and the experience. But I really believe that it won't be too long until he is ready for one of those big fights. We have to focus on Witherspoon first. Witherspoon is a good fighter. You won't hear us saying anything bad about Chazz Witherspoon."
Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter.