By Chris Cella
Last November, Johnathon Banks (29-1-1, 19 KO) shook up the heavyweight division as he upset then undefeated Seth “Mayhem” Mitchell in the second round of their twelve round fight, claiming the vacant WBO NABA and WBC International heavyweight titles.
The fighter/trainer—who trains heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko—has quietly climbed up the rankings since the only loss of his career back in 2009 at the hands of Tomasz Adamek, and despite being a bit of a quiet storm prior to the Mitchell fight, Banks caught the attention of the boxing world and the heavyweight division with his second round knockout.
On Saturday, February 16, the two heavyweights will meet again in Atlantic City for a rematch, and although he easily dismissed of Seth Mitchell on November 17, he anticipates a different fighter standing across the ring from him in two weeks.
“After my first professional loss it took a little while to regain my confidence, but I’m sure Seth will have his,” said Banks. “I’m preparing for the very best, focused Mitchell. I expect him to be much better this time and I’ll be ready.”
There is no doubt Seth Mitchell feels pressure to get back into the ring against Banks and show the boxing world that the knockout loss less than three months prior was simply a fluke, and he has what it takes to bang with the division’s most elite.
But what may be giving Banks more fuel and motivation to get back into the ring and put Mitchell again on his back is the way the Mitchell has responded about the loss in recent interviews.
“Seth Mitchell has contradicted himself,” Banks commented. “Right after the fight he was very humble, gave me respect for the win and said he was going to have to go back to the drawing board, work his way back to the position he was in. Now I hear him saying things like ‘I didn’t win the fight or knock him out because I was the better man that night’ and that it was his mistakes that were the cause of the loss. I find that to be out of character for this guy who seemed to be humble and respectful of me as a fighter prior to the first fight. When I lost to Adamek as a cruiserweight, I lost.”
Through his career Banks has handled himself inside and out in a gentlemanly fashion, which can undoubtedly be attributed working with the late Emmanuel Steward for so many years.
In boxing so much can change in such a short period of time. Three months ago, leading up to their first meeting, boxing fans and critics worldwide thought Mitchell was going to be the division’s next big thing, and that Banks maybe should focus more on his role as a trainer for the heavyweight champ; but now, if Banks is again able to exit the ring with his hardware, he may be in line to go to war with Klitschko in a showdown of fighter against trainer.
If Seth Mitchell learned anything from his last two fights, it should be that he needs to be more prepared early and find a way to weather the storm. Prior to the fight against Banks, Mitchell defeated Chazz Witherspoon via third round knockout, but in that fight, he found himself in a world of trouble early, though he was able to escape.
His over anxiousness on February 16 may prove to be his downfall against Banks if he comes out of the gate too eager. Banks is a patient, well-rounded fighter with apparent knockout power, and if an opening presents itself early again in the fight, the title holder will again make it an early night.
Banks has the belts and confidence heading into the rematch against Seth Mitchell. Now it is all about going out and executing.
“I feel that I can knockout anyone I catch,” Banks continued. “I feel very strongly I can do that.”
The Johnathon Banks/Seth Mitchell rematch is a co-feature which includes a WBC lightweight title fight against undefeated star Adrien “The Problem” Broner and Gavin Rees. The fights can will be televised live from Atlantic City on HBO World Championship Boxing beginning at 10:30 p.m. Eastern on February 16