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Underestimating such a veteran fighter could create a pothole on Mitchell’s road to a title bout, a destination he figures to reach late next year or early 2013 if the victories continue. A casual boxing fan whose football career was cut short by a knee injury, Mitchell attacks his new sport like a blitzing linebacker with a blindside shot at the quarterback.

If observers think he’s the future for American heavyweights, so be it.

“I just believe my style and the way I fight is creating a lot of buzz,” he said. “Not only do I look the part — I’m 6-foot-2, 240-plus pounds — but I bring speed and I bring athleticism and I bring the meanness in the ring. And I compete when I’m in the ring.

“Everybody saying that I’m the next great American hope builds a great accolade. But I don’t let that blow my head up or think too much of myself. I believe in myself, and I believe I have the tools and the capability of becoming heavyweight champion of the world.”

He’ll attempt another step toward proving it Saturday in D.C., as the boxing world tunes in.