By Chris Cella
This Saturday night at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, heavyweight knockout artist Seth “Mayhem” Mitchell (25-0-1, 19 KO) and Detroit’s Johnathon Banks (28-1-1, 18 KO) will go to battle in a 12-round bout for the vacant WBC International Heavyweight Title.
Additionally, this fight holds much bearing in the division, as it is also a WBC Semi-Final elimination bout, with the winner moving one step closer to fighting for a world title.
There has been buildup about this fight for quite some time, with the emerging heavyweights getting anxious for the chance to prove they deserve to fight for the belt.
“I’ve been training very hard, again very excited for this fight, very motivated,” said Mitchell. “It’s going to be a good fight. I respect Johnathon Banks, he has a lot to bring to the table, but at the end of the day I truly believe in my heart that I’ll be victorious. Whatever he comes to the table with I’ll be able to respond by training. We have about three to four game plans, and it’s going to be a great fight.”
Mitchell is coming off a third round TKO win over Chazz Witherspoon in April where he claimed the vacant WBO NABO heavyweight title, but in the process sustained a hand injury: one of the reasons this match-up with Banks took so long to materialize. But Mitchell has stated that his hand feels great and he is ready for war.
Heavy-handed and looking to make a statement that he is one of the division’s best, Mitchell has stopped all of his opponents in his last 10 fights, with the longest fight going only five rounds. If Banks is able to weather the early storm by Mitchell, it should be interesting to see if the undefeated heavyweight’s conditioning becomes a factor late in the fight.
Despite the TKO win over Witherspoon, Mitchell’s defense showed signs of weakness, and against a strong and patient fighter like Johnathon Banks, “Mayhem” will need to be weary of getting caught when he comes forward.
“My trainer (Andre Hunter) and I sit and we talk, we go back to fundamentals, and we just work on becoming a better fighter, and most definitely, definitely working on my defense,” said Mitchell.
“I don’t really get hit with too many combinations, but in that fight Chazz was able to man the right hand, and I was just glad that I was able to overcome it. I’ve definitely been working on my defense; we’ve been working on quite a few things, and hopefully on the 17th you’ll be able to see that come out, see that show that night.”
Banks’ only loss of his career came at the hands of former cruiserweight champion Tomasz Adamek in 2009, and he has since gone 8-0-1. In addition to working his way to the heavyweight title contender shot, Banks is the trainer of champion Wladimir Klitschko, so he has the experience of seeing the fight from both sides of the ropes.
About having a trainer’s and fighter’s mind, Banks commented, “I’m not going to say it gives me an advantage, but it definitely equips you with another piece of equipment besides being prepared for different things. But it gives me a different outlook about boxing, which is really good, and that’s a part of it that gives me the outlook that really keeps me motivated, got me really excited about fighting all the time, just because that particular different outlook I have as far as the trainer. But I don’t see it as no type of advantage.”
There is a lot on the line when these two powerful heavyweights meet Saturday night, and each has a chance to rise in the heavyweight division with a victory.
As part of the co-main event of the 120round WBC Lightweight world championship fight between Adrian Broner and Antonio DeMarco, Mitchell vs. Banks will be televised live on HBO World Championship Boxing beginning at 10 p.m. Eastern.