By Jake Donovan
There was a time when HBO made it a point to always have the lineal heavyweight king under contract, while showcasing most of the top contenders on somewhat of a regular basis.
Those days are long gone. Depending on your viewpoint, it’s either a rare treat or an occasional disappointment whenever the network airs a heavyweight fight these days. In recent years, a heavyweight on HBO means Al Haymon is in his corner – leading us to this weekend’s co-feature.
In fairness, the network isn’t in the Seth Mitchell business solely based on his management. The former high school and college football standout has been fun to watch in the ring the moment he turned pro. Two previous appearances on HBO have shown that, taking care of business early against Timur Ibragimov and surviving an early scare to get rid of Chazz Witherspoon earlier this year.
Standing in the opposite corner this weekend is Johnathon Banks, a fundamentally sound boxer-puncher from boxing-rich Detroit.
Banks made headlines for several reasons in recent times. The former cruiserweight title challenger took over the training reins for heavyweight king Wladimir Klitschko in the wake of the death of the legendary Emanuel Steward, all while training for his own fight Saturday evening.
The winner is in line for a final elimination bout, with the victor of that fight due a mandatory title shot against Vitali Klitschko.
Read on to see how the Boxingscene.com staff believes the battle of the big boys will go down:
PREDICTIONS – SETH MITCHELL VS. JONATHON BANKS
I think Johnathon Banks will provide Seth Mitchell with his stiffest test to date. Banks will be fighting for Emmanuel Steward but I don't think it will be enough. Mitchell will take the next step towards title contention and win via UD.
– Ryan Burton (Mitchell)
Expect Banks to deliver an inspiring performance in honor of his late trainer, the legendary Emanuel Steward. Will it be enough to carry him to victory? The guess here – is probably not. Mitchell will possibly be down on the cards when he rallies to score a KO before the rounds hit double digits
– Jake Donovan (Mitchell)
Mitchell may be a poor man's (or a homeless man's) Tyson, but he in no way should be considered on a level that'll yield more than dismissive waves from the Brothers Klitschko. Fortunately for him, Banks isn't even on that level. Unless Wlad hops in the ring and handles his sparring partner's affairs, it doesn't figure to end well for JB. Mitchell KO 6
– Lyle Fitzsimmons (Mitchell)
Banks TKO6- call it a hunch but I think Banks will be on an emotional journey that started with the passing of trainer and mentor Manny Steward and culminates with an upset over Seth Mitchell
– Ernest Gabion (Banks)
Mitchell TKO 7 Banks : Banks is definitely Mitchell's stiffest test yet seems to have had a lot on his plate recently. Banks stepped in as Klitschko's trainer while he was preparing for Mitchell. I expect Banks to outbox Seth early but pure athleticism will be the key advantage. When Banks tires Mitchell will pounce testing Banks questionable chin leading to a stoppage late in the fight
- Tim Kudgis (Mitchell)
Seth Mitchell KO7 Johnathon Banks. I think Mitchell will apply the necessary pressure and firepower to gradually overwhelm Banks.
- Ryan Maquiñana (Mitchell)
Mitchell KO Banks: This is a pretty routine showcase fight. Banks might make it three.
– Cliff Rold (Mitchell)
This heavyweight could go in different directions. Mitchell has improved his boxing ability to compliment his power. I still think Banks has faced the stronger opposition in the US and Europe. He may be fighting with a heavy heart due to the passing of Emanuel Steward, but maybe that will motivate him to win for him. Then again, Mitchell could build off the impressive knockout victories he's had in the last year or so. Still, something tells me that despite some inconsistencies in his career, Banks is able to fight through his emotions and win a hard-fought victory foe "Manny."
- Francisco Salazar (Banks)
Mitchell TKO6 - A good step up for the still evolving Mitchell and I think he'll pass another test on the road to the top. Banks will no doubt come into this fight motivated due to the passing of trainer Emmanuel Steward and will give a great effort. But Mitchell will put it together and stop Banks in 6 in a fun fight.
- Luis Sandoval (Mitchell)
Mitchell is a man on a mission. The same cannot be said about Mr. Banks, who downgraded his level of opposition drastically over the last two years. Banks looked a bit soft in all of his heavyweight fights and, unlike Chazz Witherspoon, has little chance of cracking Seth's jaw. The fight will be fun till it lasts though for Banks being a brave operator, who will go toe-to-toe and fist-to-fist with the prospect. "...And by the sword he will die, Mitchell KO5
– Alexey Sukachev (Mitchell)
Total: Seth Mitchell 8, Johnathon Banks 2
The Mitchell-Banks heavyweight scrap serves as the televised co-feature of an HBO doubleheader. The show is headlined by the lightweight title fight between Antonio DeMarco and unbeaten former 130 lb. titlist Adrien Broner. Both bouts air live from the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter: @JakeNDaBox