Can Johnathon Banks Overcome A Heavy Heart And a Trainer Stint To Upset Seth Mitchell?

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    “Proper preparation prevents piss poor performance”

    The old military adage may lack subtlety but the sentiment still rings true.

    Heavyweight Johnathon Banks is entering a career defining battle with fellow prospect Seth Mitchell on November 17th at Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City. The winner will be heralded by many as the next big American hope in the land of giants, along with the reward of a place in a final eliminator for the chance to face Vitali Klitschko for the WBC crown.

    Former footballer Seth “Mayhem” Mitchell 25-0-1(19KOs) is very much in the consciousness of a public desperately searching for the heir apparent to Joe Louis, Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson, the man to bring the biggest prize in boxing back to the States and with it restore the glamour to the division. Since his conversion from the gridiron to the squared-circle there has been a buzz surrounding the Virginia Beach native; signed to Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions in only his second professional fight despite an almost non-existent amateur career. Standing at 6’2” he is short for a modern heavyweight but natural athleticism has to date made up for physical and technical short comings.

    In the last year Mitchell has seen the calibre of opponent increased, with his last two victories coming against fringe contenders Timur Ibragimov and Chazz Witherspoon.

    The Witherspoon fight showcased Mitchell’s strengths and weaknesses: having been rocked badly in the opening stanza due to defensive frailties Mayhem rallied back with a blistering offence to stop his opponent in the third round.

    Unlike his rival, Banks 28-1-1(18 KO’s) has found himself on the outside looking in on the debate of the next U.S heavyweight star; Seth Mitchell, Bryant Jennings and Deontay Wilder are often cited while the man from Detroit’s name rarely enters the fray.

    The 30-year-old’s relative anonymity is partly a result of campaigning primarily in Europe on the undercards of the Klitschko brother’s K2 promotions. A decorated amateur, having won national amateur titles at 178lbs on three occasions, Banks is a sound technician who does everything to a solid, if unspectacular standard.

    Despite an eight year career to date, he is largely untested; his best opponent was Tomasz Adamek in 2008 when the pair met for the Pole’s IBF cruiserweight strap in which the American was stopped in the eight rounds. Since that defeat he left the 200lbs division behind and has gone on nine fights undefeated streak against journeymen. Due to the lack of depth in the division this run has earned him a spot in the eliminator for the WBC crown. The bookies will have Banks as the betting underdog but due to his rival’s defensive vulnerability combined with his own offensive abilities, the right hook a particularly potent weapon, he can’t be counted out.

    Preparation will be key.

    Unfortunately for Banks his preparation has been nothing short of turbulent.

    Not only does he have to contend with the frustration of the bout being rescheduled twice but as a disciple at the legendary Kronk Gym the passing of hall of fame trainer Emanuel Steward will certainly have a profound effect on him.

    On top of everything else the 30-year-old has stepped into the role of trainer for Wladimir Klitschko ahead of his defence against Mariusz Wach. If Banks can overcome the grief, the frustration and divided focus to defy the odds it will be a testament to the man’s inner strength and a fitting tribute to his former mentor.

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