By Francisco Salazar
School is out for the summer, but that does not mean LaRon Mitchell is getting lesson plans for the fall.
Mitchell also has to prep lessons of a different kind when he is not on school grounds. These lessons, if applied correctly, could earn him a spot amongst the best heavyweights in boxing.
Mitchell makes his long-awaited return to the ring Saturday night, when he squares off against Rodney Hernandez in an eight round bout at the Omega Products International in Sacramento, California.
The bout will precede the eight round bout between unbeaten featherweight prospect Ruben Villa and Ricardo Lopez. Both fights, along with five more preliminary bouts, will stream live on ThompsonBoxing.com or Thompson Boxing's Facebook page (10:45 p.m. ET/ 7:45 p.m. PT).
Mitchell (16-0, 14 knockouts) last fought on Aug. 25, knocking out Mike Bissett in round three. The 38-year-old Mitchell, who was a 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials finalist, had a fight lined up in May, but the fight fell through.
The San Francisco resident will face a fellow Bay Area resident in Rodney Hernandez (10-7-2, 2 KOs) of Modesto, who has lost four of his last six bouts, three to unbeaten prospects.
Mitchell is not overlooking Hernandez, as both have sparred numerous times and are acquaintances outside the ring.
"We're fighting for Bay Area bragging rights, "said Mitchell. "There aren't too many heavyweights in Northern California so this fight is about making who's the best from this area."
"(Since my last bout), I've been in the gym non-stop," said Mitchell, who was a former tight end in college. "I never stop training. I always try to stay in shape between fights. It's definitely strange not fighting as often as I have in the past."
Mitchell trains in San Francisco, but teaches physical education at a junior high school across the San Francisco Bay in Oakland. The southpaw Mitchell, who has a Bachelor's degree from San Francisco State University, believes his role as an educator as what has led to his success in the ring.
"The discipline that I need for a career in boxing comes from my teaching experience," said Mtichell, who has recently been sparring with WBC heavyweight titleholder Deontay Wilder. "Every hour of the day is planned out."
"I can't miss a day in training and make it up later in the week like most guys because there are no extra days for me."
Mitchell could return to the ring as soon as late August or in September should he be victorious over Hernandez.
Francisco A. Salazar has written for Boxingscene.com since September of 2012 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (Calif.) Star newspaper. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing