by Tim Harrison
Heavyweight contender Seth “Mayhem” Mitchell (25-0-1, 19 KOs) takes on fellow American heavyweight, Johnathon Banks (28-1-1, 18 KOs) on the undercard of Antonio DeMarco’s WBC lightweight title defense against up-and-coming star Adrien Broner at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey. HBO World Championship Boxing broadcasts the action beginning at 10 PM ET/7 PM PT on Saturday, November 17.
Mitchell is the American heavyweight currently carrying the hope of the collective fan base that he will ascend to the top of the division when his time comes. The former Michigan State All-American Linebacker came into boxing late in life, having turned to the professional ranks at 25 years of age after a knee injury prematurely ended his football career. Mitchell only recently stepped up above club-level opposition, and looked impressive in back-to-back stoppage victories over Timur Ibragimov and Chazz Witherspoon. Mitchell passed the first serious test of his career when he fought back from being rocked in the second round against Witherspoon. After stopping Witherspoon in the next round, a hand injury forced Mitchell to the sidelines for most of 2012, and he’s looking to get back on track against Banks on Saturday night.
Banks was in the news cycle over the last two weeks for his part in the training camp of heavyweight ruler Wladimir Klitschko. Banks, who has ties to the late Emanuel Steward, spent the latter part of Klitschko’s camp as his trainer. The 30-year old Detroit native suffered his only loss to Tomasz Adamek in a cruiserweight title challenge nearly four years ago. Of his eight wins since the loss to Adamek, Banks has logged wins over Travis Walker and well-traveled journeyman, Nicolai Firtha.
Banks is the more technical of the two, having trained under the expert tutelage of Emanuel Steward. Banks counter punches well, especially with his right hand. Being a cruiserweight that came up to the heavyweight ranks, Banks moves well on his feet and with his head and shoulders.
Mitchell is the better pure athlete and fighter of the two. He doesn’t have a very commanding jab. He throws it more as a range finder and to disrupt the vision of his opponents before he uncorks his power shots. His defense is porous at times and he can be hit, and when he chooses to follow his opponents around the ring he often walks into punches.
Banks will have to use his feet and jab to give himself the best chance at victory. His jab will keep Mitchell at bay while his movement will keep Mitchell from setting up shop and letting his heavy hands go. Having been knocked out by Tomasz Adamek as a cruiserweight, it is unlikely Banks will be able to withstand many of Mitchell’s flush, heavy shots.
Mitchell will be the aggressor, stalking the naturally smaller, more fleet of foot Johnathon Banks around the ring. Mitchell will want to avoid following Banks as he moves, and should look to cut off the ring and steer Banks into his clubbing right hand. He will likely be out-jabbed, but he shouldn’t let that discourage him from using his when he gets in range. If Mitchell fights with intelligent aggression he should be able
Mitchell is the favorite in this fight, and rightfully so. His athletic ability and brute physical strength coupled with the mental toughness he put on display in his last fight have put the expectations heaped upon him that closer to his reach. It’s a good bet that Banks will employ his movement and box Mitchell from a distance, and it is up to Mitchell to avoid following Banks around the ring and walk into traps. Expect Mitchell to make his fair share of tactical gaffes, but fight an overall smart and impressive fight against a threadbare, boxer-turned-tranier-turned-boxer, Johnathon Banks and earn a fifth round stoppage win on Saturday night.