by David P. Greisman
Last week it was announced that heavyweight prospect Seth Mitchell will be returning to the ring this Oct. 6 to face Johnathon Banks.
That bout, coming on the Atlantic City undercard to an Adrien Broner main event, is one that was initially supposed to have taken place on the July undercard to Amir Khan-Danny Garcia. But Mitchell had to pull out of facing Banks in July, citing lingering damage to his hand from an April technical knockout over Chazz Witherspoon.
Mitchell’s injury — a sprained MCL in his right middle finger knuckle — has now healed, and the 30-year-old from Brandywine, Md., is getting ready for his fight against Banks, a 30-year-old from Detroit with a record of 28-1-1 (18 knockouts).
Mitchell, who is undefeated at 25-0-1 with 19 KOs, spoke to BoxingScene.com on July 27.
BoxingScene.com: Your return to the ring has been announced. How’s the injured hand coming along?
Mitchell: “It’s coming along well. Last week, I started back punching the heavy bag and doing the mitts. And so far, so good, man. It just feels good to have a date and start my preparation. I’ve been in the gym, but just real light stuff and only using my left hand until last week. So, so far, so good. I’m excited.”
BoxingScene.com: Has the hand completely healed?
Mitchell: “Yes, as far as I know. I’m punching on it, and I’m not having any side effects or any soreness. So as far as I’m concerned, it’s completely healed, and I’m just ready to go. Hopefully it continues to feel as it does.”
BoxingScene.com: You’re facing the same opponent that you were going to face prior to taking time off to heal the hand. Why face Johnathon Banks in your first fight back rather than take a gimme fight?
Mitchell: “I feel that I’m ready for that next echelon of fighters, and Johnathon Banks, I think he’s going to pose a tough test for me, but as always I’ll be prepared. I’m looking forward to going out there, performing well and coming out victorious.”
BoxingScene.com: You had said back when the Banks fight got canceled that you felt sorry for him. Was it important for you that he still be the opponent when your hand healed?
Mitchell: “I definitely wanted him to be the opponent. My team and I, we think this is a good step up in competition on my way to hopefully fighting for the title. I realize that this is how people feed their family, and that was the first time that I actually had to pull out of a fight. I definitely wanted him to have his opportunity to fight me. This would be his first time on this venue in a while. So I want him to enjoy the fruits of his labor as well — but I definitely don’t plan on having any setbacks, though.”
BoxingScene.com: And I’m guessing part of that is because of he’s the kind of opponent and potential test you and your team want for you at this point in your career.
Mitchell: “Right. He has a good jab. He has an excellent right hand. He’s fought tough opposition. His record speaks for itself, 28-1-1 with 18 knockouts. So he’s definitely somebody that has my juices flowing, and come the 6th of October, everything will be clicking on all cylinders.”
BoxingScene.com: Banks’ only loss was to Tomasz Adamek. What did that fight show you about him?
Mitchell: “Actually, I’ve only seen highlights of that fight. I haven’t seen the full fight. Once I realized that I wasn’t going to be fighting — I was about to start watching tape of him, but I postponed that once I realized I wasn’t going to fight. I’m in the process of trying to get some tape of him now, and I’ll start watching tape of him within the next week. So I haven’t really seen a lot of him; I’ve just heard some things about him.”
BoxingScene.com: What have you heard about him?
Mitchell: “I heard that he’s a pretty good boxer, and he has a good right hand and he’ll fight you a little bit.”
BoxingScene.com: How do you deal, stylistically, with a former cruiserweight who could be faster than you in the ring, both with his feet and with his hands?
Mitchell: “I don’t necessarily think that’s true. I feel that I have pretty good hand speed for a heavyweight. And I cut off the ring very well as a heavyweight. So I don’t concede to any of that. I think I’m prepared — if somebody is faster than me as a heavyweight, I don’t necessarily think they’re that much faster than me where it’s considered an advantage. As far as them moving and things of that nature, I cut off the ring pretty well and make it a small territory in there, so I’ll be able to deal with whatever he brings to the table.”
BoxingScene.com: This guy has sparred with Wladimir Klitschko and has had Emanuel Steward as his trainer. Do you think that supplements his skills when it comes to getting in the ring with a fighter like you?
Mitchell: “I can say that he probably won’t be intimidated because he’s faced the likes of the Klitschkos. But at the same time it’s a whole new ballgame once you get in there. A lot of fighters, they face me, and they realize once they get in there that [I’m better] than they expected me to be. I pack a bigger punch than they think I pack. And my ability to cut off the ring and make it constant pressure on them — once they get in the ring and realize that, it’s a shock to them.”
BoxingScene.com: Last year you ended 2011 by fighting in front of a home crowd in Washington, D.C. This past April it sounded like you had a good contingent of fans supporting you in Atlantic City. Now you’ll be back in Atlantic City again. Would you prefer to keep fighting in this area instead of, say, in Las Vegas or California?
Mitchell: “I like the ability to be able to fight here. Hopefully we’ll be able fight back here in D.C., but New York and Atlantic City is kind of like an extended home for me, because a lot of my fans and friends, they’re able to travel out to those venues. But Vegas, that’s the spot to be. That’s big time right there. So I would like to continue to fight out in Vegas, as well as come back home to fight.”
BoxingScene.com: You’d mentioned that Banks is the right opponent for this point in your career. Because of the postponement, has the injury pushed back your plans at all for a Klitschko fight in 2013?
Mitchell: “Oh, absolutely not. I believe I’m about three fights from my opportunity. I just need to continue to improve and continue to win. I think I can get that shot at the end of 2013.”
BoxingScene.com: Any final thoughts for your fans?
Mitchell: “I’m excited to be back. I hope they’re as excited to watch me fight as I am to perform. I just ask them to pray for me, and to follow me on Twitter (@SethMayhem48) and on Facebook. And on Oct. 6, I’m looking forward to putting on another good show.”
David P. Greisman is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Follow David on Twitter @fightingwords2 or send questions/comments via email at [email protected]