Seth Mitchell and the Top 20 U.S. Heavyweights

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Seth Mitchell and the Top 20 U.S. Heavyweights
Al Bello/Getty Images

The sad state of affairs in the domestic heavyweight boxing scene is a long standing source of woe for North American fans, a consistent source of complaint for going on a generation now.

I am closing in on turning 42 as I write this; the relative glory days of Holyfield-Bowe or Holyfield-Tyson or even Ray Mercer-Tommy Morrison were years ago now, when I was a young man.

The meteoric thrill ride that was the young Iron Mike Tyson occurred during my adolescence.

The seemingly endless and unassailable reign of Larry Holmes coincided with my childhood, when I was developing my own long term sports fan memories.

The true golden age of Ali-Fraiser-Foreman-Norton took place for me during the myth-making years when earliest impressions freeze into lasting fragments of memory. When I would read about these events only a few years later, as I absorbed every sports book in my local and elementary school libraries, I understood clearly that it had already passed into the status of iconic sports history.

Marciano, Louis, Dempsey existed back in the same sort of glamorous historical haze as Micky Mantle, Ted Williams and Babe Ruth.

I read and write about boxing nearly every day. I am a fan of the sport and while there are things I would like to see happen differently from time to time, I am mostly pretty satisfied on a week-to-week basis with the number of high quality boxers who do square off and compete.

But like all boxing fans my age, a part of me is always hungering for a return of the great American heavyweight. But I have to be honest, writing this list has not made me more optimistic about the state of the division. 

There are plenty of exciting, talented American heavyweights. But most of our best fighters in the division have already come up short against the Klitschko brothers, or else other top ranked eastern Europeans like Tomasz Adamek, Alexander Povetkin or Mariusz Wach.

For years now the division has been dominated by Europeans, particularly fighters from former Soviet bloc nations.

Sports fans in those cultures still have a healthy reverence for the individual combat sports and the best big athletes in those cultures still pursue glory in them.

Meanwhile, in the United States, boxing, for whatever reason, has been in decline and the best and biggest athletes have filtered towards football.

Seth Mitchell, one of the highest ranked fighters on this list and perhaps the best current candidate for making the heavyweight division relevant again in the United States, is a former division one linebacker.

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