By Francisco Salazar
Heavyweight Seth Mitchell did not have to do it. But he insisted it had to be done.
Jonathan Banks wants to prove no fluke was involved.
The combatants who seemed to have careers going in opposite directions before their first meeting will square off in a rematch Saturday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY.
The bout will precede the Paul Malignaggi-Adrien Broner world title belt fight. Both fights, along with the Sakio Bika-Marco Antonio Periban bout, will be televised on Showtime, starting at 9 PM ET/ 6 PM PT.
Prior to the night of November 17th of last year, Mitchell was on the fast track, even labeled by some, including his promoter, as the next great heavyweight. Banks was unbeaten in nine bouts since a loss to Tomasz Adamek, but had mostly fought in Europe on undercards of Klitschko fights.
A majority of media thought Mitchell would defeat Banks, which would have probably put him to a more lucrative fight down the road.
In less than six minutes from the opening bell, Mitchell was left dazed and confused, much like his career to this point. Banks solidified his standing as one of the best heavyweights in boxing.
“I have the opportunity to redeem myself in a sport that can be forgiving an unforgiving at the same time,” said Mitchell at the final press conference on Thursday. “It was a tough loss and it took me a while to get over the loss.”
Understandably so for Mitchell. He had pretty much gone through most heavyweights he had faced rather easily or without much of a challenge. The loss to Banks was an eye-opener.
However, Banks became the man to beat as a heavyweight in this country.
“Mitchell was touted as the number one heavyweight in America,” said Tom Loeffler, whose K2 Promotions promotes Banks. “Once Banks beat Mitchell, he became the best heavyweight in the United States. This fight will produce fireworks.”
Which could possibly happen. However, if they were to trade blows, would that fall into Banks’ game plan or would Mitchell be able to correct the mistakes he made in the first fight?
That will be the interesting thing. Unlike the Malignaggi-Broner war of words, both Banks and Mitchell have kept the professionalism in the forefront.
“Banks is a class act,” said Mitchell, who was a star linebacker at Michigan State University before venturing into the sweet science. “Once I’m in the ring, I’m not going to be nice. I’ve truly learned from my loss. He’s prepared and I’m prepared.”
“I respect him as a fighter. I’m looking forward to the fight on Saturday. I’m going to try and stop him again.”
Francisco A. Salazar has been writing for Boxingscene.com since September and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. He also covers boxing for the Ventura County (CA) Star newspaper. He could be reached by email at [email protected] or on twitter at Salazar_soccer