The record -- 17-0 with seven knockouts -- is slightly overshadowed by Sharmba Mitchell's age. Only 19, already Mitchell has fought in four states, attained a world ranking, and had his trunks pulled down during a nationally televised bout in March.

Eventful as it has been, Mitchell's career is still taking shape. The Washington lightweight is an unquestionable talent, yet remains untested. His fights have not been close. He rarely gets hit. Opponents have failed to capitalize on his apparent lack of power.

It soon will be time for Mitchell to take a step up in class if, in fact, he is to challenge for a title by 1991, as planned by trainer Adrian Davis.

"He's got a little gift," said Davis, a schoolmate of Mitchell's aunt. "He's extra fast. I just like everything he does, and the big thing he does is win."

Mitchell's speed was too much for Pittsburgh's Eric Podolak on July 4, when he scored a fifth-round knockout at D.C. Convention Center on the undercard of the Louis Curtis-Pedro Feliciano bout. Tonight, Mitchell returns to the ring against Freddy Sevilla of Colombia in a scheduled 10-rounder at the Blue Horizon in Philadelphia, marking Mitchell's main-event debut and his shortest interval between fights since his debut in Atlantic City in September 1988.

Sevilla (10-1, seven KOs) is a knockout specialist whose aggressive tactics could present problems for Mitchell. While Mitchell already has won six bouts in 1990, Sevilla, 24, has scored three successive knockouts and seven in eight fights. Since 1986, none of Sevilla's opponents has lasted past the sixth round.

"He's going to be a tough guy," said Mitchell, who celebrates his 20th birthday Aug. 27. "I've heard he's my toughest challenge ever. But I can't worry about the opponent."

Instead of scheduling lengthy rests between bouts, Davis has Mitchell fighting virtually every month, accounting for quickly earned experience and rapid rise in the rankings. Mitchell is rated 12th by the North American Boxing Federation and No. 22 by the World Boxing Council as of June. As described by WBC rating committee member Dean Lohuis, Mitchell "has come out of nowhere to do that."

Before his victory over Podolak -- a bout that many, including Mitchell, said was stopped prematurely -- Mitchell produced his most impressive peformance, winning an eight-round unanimous decision April 29 over England's Nigel Wenton.

The Wenton bout followed his first 10-round effort -- a decision over Billy Young in Philadelphia on April 3 -- and the trunks-removal incident against Bazooka Limon on March 8. For the Young fight, Mitchell climbed into the ring wearing suspenders. He did the same against Podolak, commemorating Indepedence Day with red boots, blue trunks and flag-colored suspenders.

The incident helped Mitchell get noticed. Now that he has established a reputation, he is trying to convince people that he can hit harder than his knockout ratio differential.

"I know I can knock people out," Mitchell said. "Some people have the will power not to get knocked out. There's nothing I can do about that. They have good chins."