By David P. Greisman
He was one of just four remaining active Golden Boy fighters that still were appearing on HBO. But now the relationship is over between network and promoter, and it seems likely that Seth Mitchell’s rematch with Johnathon Banks — which was once to have taken place in February on HBO — will instead be on Showtime.
Banks-Mitchell 2 was postponed from February after Banks broke his thumb while sparring. It was thought that the bout would be rescheduled for the May 18 card featuring Lamont Peterson vs. Lucas Matthysse, but Banks is still recovering from the injury, according to Dan Rafael of ESPN.com.
Mitchell is still training as if the rematch will happen, potentially in June. He still wants the bout; after all, Banks stopped Mitchell last November, giving the 30-year-old heavyweight his first pro loss.
Mitchell, now 25-1-1 with 19 knockouts, spoke with BoxingScene.com on March 26 about that bout, the upcoming move from being spotlighted on HBO to appearing on Showtime, and his reaction to the recent arrest of Adrien Broner — a boxer with whom he is friendly.
BoxingScene.com: What’s been going on with you?
Mitchell: “Nothing much, man. Just staying in the gym, you know, not training full tilt, but just staying in the gym, staying sharp, just waiting for [the Banks bout]. I believe it’ll be sometime in June, I’m not exactly sure of the exact date or the venue, but I’ve been told it’ll be sometime in June. So I’m just staying sharp, not killing myself, but am in the gym enjoying the [NCAA] tournament right now and enjoying the Miami Heat’s run. Just enjoying life.”
BoxingScene.com: Let’s come back to June in the moment, but I wanted to bring up the big news from last week about HBO and Golden Boy. The landscape of the boxing world really changed for you while you’ve been waiting for your rematch with Johnathon Banks. Now that HBO won’t be doing any more business with Golden Boy, I presume your next fight will be on Showtime. What did you think of HBO’s announcement when you heard the news?
Mitchell: “It was as shocking to me as I guess it was to a lot of people. But, you know, it’s business. I have nothing bad to say towards HBO. I’ve had a great run with them with the times I was on their air. They did a great piece on me with ‘Seth Mitchell: 2 Days.’ It was unfortunate, but anything can happen in this business. That’s how I look at it. But I wish them the best, and I have nothing bad to say about HBO.”
BoxingScene.com: When you say that it’s unfortunate, why is that? Is it because you were building up a fan base on that network and being featured? Is it because you had a relationship with them?
Mitchell: “Just for some of the fights that probably won’t get made now. Golden Boy has a big stable of fighters that fought on HBO, and with the Top Rank and Golden Boy thing going on, that’s just another barrier that’s probably going to block some fights. So it’s unfortunate for fans and the viewership of boxing.”
BoxingScene.com: So it’s less you speaking as a boxer, and more you speaking as a boxing fan.
BoxingScene.com: How do you feel about potentially being on Showtime, then? It seems like that network has really been on an upward track in recent years.
Mitchell: “I’m definitely excited to fight on the network. You know, my job is just to go out there and put on entertaining fights. I’ve always said, win, lose or draw, my fights are never boring. So I’m just excited to get back out there, get back on TV and fight and put on another exciting fight.”
BoxingScene.com: Coming back to June, I’ve been hearing that you could be on the undercard to Adrien Broner and Paulie Malignaggi. Is that what you’ve been told is a possibility?
Mitchell: “I’ve heard that is a possibility, but as you know in this sport, until they say ‘In the red corner,’ and ‘In the blue corner,’ anything can change. My fight dates have changed. My venues have changed. I’m definitely told that I’ll fight in June some time, so I’m just preparing as if I’m fighting in June. I’m in the gym now, not killing myself, but just staying sharp, and I’m probably going to start training camp in another three weeks.”
BoxingScene.com: Are you presuming that it’s still going to be a rematch with Johnathon Banks?
Mitchell: “That’s what I’ve heard, yes. I believe so.”
BoxingScene.com: You were originally supposed to fight him back in February. What’s it like for you to keep on waiting and not know whether the bout will be happening, and when it will be happening?
Mitchell: “I have to tell you, it’s not fun. It’s not fun when you bite down and go through a hard training camp, and you’re eating right, and you’re just doing the necessary things that you have to do to prepare for a fight, and you’re in peak shape, mentally and physically — and then you get the call that the fight is not going to happen.
“It’s tough, but I always go back to ‘Everything happens for a reason.’ It just gave me more time to prepare, more time to get better, and that’s just what I’ve been doing. But it’s not fun at all. The hardest thing for me is because I’m a gym rat, I stay in the gym all the time. The hardest thing for me, when the fights get postponed, is to know when to take a little break, but at the same time not be away from the gym. You don’t want to over-train. That’s the hardest thing for me is not overtraining and finding that balance.”
BoxingScene.com: But also making sure you don’t get too much rust from being out of the ring.
BoxingScene.com: If Banks is not ready to fight in June, would you wait as that bout is delayed again or would you direct your team to start finding other opponents?
Mitchell: “Definitely the latter. I want to fight. I want to fight, so if he’s not going to be able to fight, then I’ll definitely have my team start looking elsewhere.”
BoxingScene.com: Bryant Jennings and Franklin Lawrence are going to be facing each other in June. We’ve talked about Jennings before. Would you prefer to have the Jennings fight next if Banks is not ready, or prefer it maybe further down the line?
Mitchell: “It doesn’t matter. Like I said, Jennings called me out once the [Banks] fight got postponed, and I was willing to fight him then. I’m not running from anybody. But right now Jennings is not my opponent. Johnathon Banks is supposed to be my opponent, so I’m focused on that. But if Jennings wants to fight, we can fight. I’m not worried about Jennings right now. I like him as a fighter, but I’d definitely be willing to fight him.”
BoxingScene.com: I know you pay attention to the sport, especially to your division. What do you think about the Jennings-Lawrence bout? Are you familiar with Lawrence?
Mitchell: “I’m familiar with the name. I haven’t seen him fight. I’ve seen Jennings fight on TV about three times. I think it’ll be a good fight. Franklin Lawrence can fight. I heard he has a good left hook and good power. I think it’s definitely a fight worth watching.”
BoxingScene.com: What do you think of the upcoming bout between Chris Arreola and Bermane Stiverne?
Mitchell: “That’s definitely an exciting heavyweight bout to watch as well. I think it’s a 50-50 fight. I’ve seen Stiverne fight a couple of times. Sometimes he comes in and I guess is not in as good a shape, and you can tell by his output and his punches and everything. But I think if he comes in shape — and Chris Arreola in his last few fights definitely came in the ring in shape, so I think it’ll be a good fight. I can’t pick a winner, though.”
BoxingScene.com: And one other notable heavyweight fight coming up is Steve Cunningham and Tyson Fury. What do you think about that one?
Mitchell: “I probably would pick Tyson Fury to win, just for his size. I think his size is going to be the determining factor in that fight.”
BoxingScene.com: Another local heavyweight got a big win recently. Did you catch Tony Thompson’s victory over David Price?
Mitchell: “I didn’t catch it, but I definitely heard about it as soon as it happened. It didn’t surprise me. I knew that Tony Thompson has a lot of experience. I’ve sparred with him ever since I got into boxing. So I know what he brings to the table. I know that he can fight. And David Price, he was a young lion coming up It was a pick’em fight, but Tony had a lot of experience, and if he wasn’t ready for that experience, then he could probably lose that fight. That was a big step for [Price].”
BoxingScene.com: I bring all of these names for a reason. For a time, it seemed like the heavyweight division was the Klitschko brothers and not much else. But now there are a lot of younger fighters such as you and others coming up. This has to be an exciting time to be in the division. I know the end goal for you is still to get a shot at the Klitschkos, but how much do you also want to face these other heavyweights and assert your dominance, your claim for a shot at the Klitschkos?
Mitchell: “That’s a big goal of mine. Like you stated, there’s a lot of heavyweights out there besides the Klitschkos that can put on great, exciting fights for the fans. I definitely want to be involved in a lot of those fights. The ultimate goal is to become heavyweight champion in the world. So whatever the other heavyweights do outside of the Klitschkos, you’re still going to have that asterisk above your head — you didn’t beat the Klitschkos, or you haven’t fought the Klitschkos yet. That’s the ultimate goal, is to win the belts and to fight whoever, if it’s the Klitschkos, whoever has the straps at the time.”
BoxingScene.com: Do you want to get to the Klitschkos sooner, or do you think you should face some of these other guys first?
Mitchell: “I believe I’m probably about three fights away. I definitely want to fight about two to three more times before I have my opportunity. But my main focus right now is my next fight. As you know, as everybody knows, this is a big fight for me, rematching the person that I just lost to. That’s my main focus now. If I don’t take care of business, then that just prolongs my journey to the heavyweight title. That’s just my main focus right now, is beating Johnathon Banks.”
BoxingScene.com: I know you’re friends with Adrien Broner. What did you think of his arrest?
Mitchell: “It’s unfortunate. But Adrien Broner, he’s going to do what he does. He’s young. He’ll get it together. But it was just unfortunate. I think a lot of times, he gets a bad rap because of some of the things that he says and he does. But I know him on a personal level. When you sit down with him and talk to him, he’s definitely not an arrogant, cocky individual. He doesn’t come off like that when you know him and sit down and talk to him in person. I guess he’s a bad rap for some of his antics. But it was just unfortunate. I just wish him the best. You got to realize, he’s 23 years old. He has a lot coming at him right now. But Adrien Broner, he’s a good person, he’s a good individual.”
BoxingScene.com: Any final thoughts for your fans?
Mitchell: “Everybody can follow me on Twitter (@SethMayhem48) and on Facebook. I’m excited and ready to get back into the ring. It’ll be some time in June, and once that date is officially announced, I’ll keep everybody updated and posted. And just continue to pray for me, and thank you.”
BoxingScene.com: Who do you think is going to win the NCAA tournament?
Mitchell: “Come on now. You know who I think is going to win — Michigan State! And I got about 11 of 16 teams in the Sweet 16, so my bracket is pretty strong right now. I picked a few upsets in the first round, but I didn’t have Florida Gulf Coast, but I do have 11 out of 16.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org