By Jake Donovan
It was barely a year ago when the industry at large was still trying to determine whether or not Seth Mitchell is for real. A breakthrough performance came in his two-round blitzing of Timur Ibragimov, one that took place both in his home region of Washington D.C. (Mitchell is from nearby Brandywine, MD) and on cable giant HBO.
Mitchell instantly became the de facto leader for the resurgence of the American heavyweight fight scene. Fast forward to a year later, as the unbeaten contender is now being groomed for a future title shot.
Standing in his way is a fitting test on several levels. Johnathon Banks is a solid test for any top heavyweight, not to mention he is a key member of the inner circle for current heavyweight king Wladimir Klitschko. Banks simultaneously trained for his own fight this Saturday as well as serve as lead trainer for Klitschko’s win over Mariusz Wach this past weekend.
While Banks is no world beater, there is still plenty of honor to come with a win over him. The Detroit native is unbeaten in nine fights at heavyweight since moving up following a TKO loss to Tomasz Adamek in Feb. ’09 back when both were still campaigning as cruiserweights.
Mitchell heads to Atlantic City – where this weekend’s show takes place - with the belief that a televised win over Banks continues to close the gap between rising contender and title challenger.
“I think a victory over Johnathon Banks will ultimately get me closer to a title shot, whether it’s the Klitschkos or whoever,” says Mitchell (25-0-1, 19KO), who overcame an early scare to stop Chazz Witherspoon in the very same Boardwalk Hall venue that houses this weekend’s show. “We always had a plan to be in line for a title shot for the latter part of 2013.”
Mitchell was rocked early against Witherspoon in their slugfest this past April before emerging victorious. Some scepticism came with the win, but was otherwise mostly praise as the U.S. continues to enjoy the rare sight of an unbeaten American heavyweight who is fun to watch.
The praise is much appreciated by Mitchell, but not the entire reason why he does what he does.
“I don’t think about becoming the Great American Hope. I just believe in my ability to become heavyweight champion of the world,” Mitchell theorizes. “Johnathon Banks is standing in my way of achieving that goal. I believe the future is bright for me and it’s exciting for me. The next step for me is on November 17. Wherever I have to go, Jonathon Banks is in my way.”
Should Mitchell survive his latest test, there still exists a hurdle or two before getting to either Klitschko. This weekend’s bout is the first leg in a series of planned elimination bouts. Mitchell is prepared to go whatever route it takes to get to the Klitschkos and to bring stateside interest back into the heavyweight division.
“The Klitschkos have been champ for six, seven, eight years and deservedly so. They’ve earned that right and are great ambassadors of the sport,” Mitchell says of the defending champion brothers. “The heavyweight division needs more excitement. I believe I’m the right guy to bring that back.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter: @JakeNDaBox