By Thomas Gerbasi
Barclays Center, Brooklyn - Seth Mitchell may have gotten even with Johnathan Banks in their heavyweight rematch, avenging his November 2012 defeat to the Detroiter, but this was probably not the way he wanted to win, taking a less than scintillating unanimous decision in a 12 rounder that was met with boos from start to finish.
Scores were 115-112, 117-109, and 114-112 in the NABO and WBC International heavyweight title fight.
After the wild-swinging intensity of the previous bout between Sakio Bika and Marco Antonio Periban, the fans at Barclays Center booed the tentative start to the heavyweight bout almost immediately, but neither fighter was willing to take too many chances in that first round no matter what anyone thought.
There was little change to the pace for most of the second round, drawing boos again, but with less than a minute left, Mitchell scored a questionable knockdown from what appeared to be a right to the back of the head. Banks, unhurt, protested and rose quickly, but there would be no change of the call from referee Mike Ortega.
Mitchell got off some good shots in the third, but it was Banks that went back to the corner with the better outlook on the fight after rocking his foe repeatedly in the final minute, with only the bell apparently keeping Mitchell from a trip to the canvas.
Maryland’s Mitchell got himself back in the fight in round four, even taking a couple hard shots well without flinching, but his punch output was doing nothing to deter Banks from moving forward throughout. That changed in the fifth, as Mitchell was able to corner Banks and tee off with a few power shots, drawing oohs from the crowd with each swing. By now, Mitchell seemed to have his legs and his swagger back, even as Banks looked to lower the boom once more.
What was expected to be a war had ultimately turned into a war of nerves in round six, with neither fighter willing to let their hands go, and round seven was no better outside of two right hands landed by Mitchell.
A fight briefly (very briefly) broke out in the eighth, with Banks getting the better of the exchanges as he showed signs of life for the first time in a few rounds. At this point, you had to wonder what Banks’ late great trainer Emanuel Steward would have been telling his charge. Most likely it wouldn’t have been fit for mixed company, but it might have done the trick to get Banks to unleash his shots on Mitchell’s shaky beard.
In round nine, Mitchell pressed the action at close range, and while he wasn’t hurting Banks, he was doing something, likely earning him the round.
Nothing of note occurred in round ten, a sadly recurring theme throughout the bout, and even the boo birds took the frame off before returning in force late in the 11th and 12th rounds. As for the fighters, Mitchell marched forward and jabbed as Banks periodically fired back, landing few meaningful shots, making that the story of one of the most disappointing heavyweight fights of recent years. And that’s saying a lot.
With the win, Mitchell moves to 26-1-1 with 19 KOs; Banks, who knocked Mitchell out in two rounds in their first bout, falls to 29-2-1 with 19 KOs.