By Keith Idec
NEW YORK — Seth Mitchell won his rematch against Johnathon Banks, but he didn’t win many fans Saturday night at Barclays Center.
The former Michigan State linebacker beat a lethargic Banks by unanimous decision in a 12-round fight for a regional heavyweight title. He didn’t do anything else, however, to instill confidence in those that don’t believe he has what it takes to become the next heavyweight champion from the U.S.
Still, Mitchell (26-1-1, 19 KOs) clearly won an incredibly boring bout that didn’t at all resemble their first fight, a short slugfest Detroit’s Banks won by second-round TKO six months ago in Atlantic City. All three judges — Waleska Roldan (115-112), Michael Ross (117-109) and Don Trella (114-112) — scored Mitchell the winner, though fans loudly booed after the decision was announced.
"I felt confident," said Mitchell, of Brandywine, Md. "Banks was looking to counter-punch only. I had to be smart and stick to my game plan. I felt I won eight out of 12 rounds, at worst seven out of 12.
"He hurt me in the third round, but I recovered. I was ready to go 12 rounds and with my stamina, I could’ve gone 15."
Banks (29-2-1, 19 KOs) hurt Mitchell with a right hand to the side of the head in the third round. He appeared on his way to another knockout victory, but Banks basically stopped throwing punches after that round.
He offered no excuses for his strange strategy, though, and credited Mitchell for learning from their first fight, which was considered a mild upset Nov. 17 at Boardwalk Hall.
The Banks-Mitchell rematch originally was scheduled for Feb. 16 at Boardwalk Hall, but Banks suffered a broken bone in his thumb during a Feb. 4 sparring session and the fight was postponed four months.
Mitchell, 31, finished training for the rescheduled rematch with a heavy heart. He and his wife, Danielle, endured a stillbirth of their third child two weeks ago.
"He weathered the storm better this time than he did last time," said Banks, who turned 31 on Saturday. "I give him all the credit. He fought a very good fight. I’d like to fight him a third time before I fight anybody else."