On November 17, heavyweight Seth Mitchell suffered the first loss of his career when he was knocked down three times and stopped by Johnathon Banks in the second round.
Before the loss, many in the media had touted Mitchell, a former Michigan State linebacker, as the savior of American heavyweights.
After the loss, some of the very same folks acted as if he had no business in the squared circle at all, let alone fighting on HBO for six-figure paydays.
“I have a lot of people who support me, but I don’t get too high off the praise and I don’t let the criticism bring me down,” Mitchell said. “My support doesn’t come from the media and things of that nature.
“It’s good to have them on your side but at the same time they are doing their jobs; all I can control is what I go out there and do (in the ring).”
On February 16, Mitchell will have a chance to prove those critics wrong or add more to fire when he challenges Banks in a rematch.
“The first thing I said to Al Haymon when I went back in the dressing room (after the loss) [was] can we get him back in the ring, when can I fight him again,” Mitchell said. “ I just want to get him back in the ring.”
By asking for the rematch, rather than taking a tune-up fight against a lesser opponent in the interim, certainly shows that the former gridiron standout has the heart of a champion.
“It never entered my mind,” Mitchell said of taking a tune-up fight. “I am not taking nothing away from Johnathon Banks, he beat me that night, but I don’t feel that he’s a better fighter than me.
“I just want to get him back in the ring and it will be a different outcome this time.”
Including his amateur career, Mitchell has only six years of boxing experience under his belt. Banks, on the other hand, had an extensive amateur career that included three national championships.
Mitchell, though, makes no excuses about his lack of amateur background, which in boxing can mean the difference between being a champion and a contender.
“I have fought plenty of people that have had way more experience than me,” Mitchell said. “I just think that my technique and everything in that fight was totally wrong; I think the main key for this fight is my balance and my distance.”
Balance and distance certainly were an issue in the first fight and are exactly what got Mitchell in trouble in the second round and ultimately stopped.
For the rematch, Mitchell will have a training camp away from home for the first time in his career, and he is focused on just working on the fundamentals.
“This is the biggest fight of my career,” Mitchell said. “I understand what’s at stake and what’s on the table, and I am up for the challenge.”
Michael Walters is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand.