For most of 2012, Seth Mitchell was widely hailed as the next great hope for America at heavyweight. In December of 2011 he TKOd former world title holder Timur Ibragimov in the second round. In April of last year he improved to 25-0-1 with 19 KOs when he stopped fellow contender Chazz Witherspoon in three rounds.
I'll admit, I was right there on the bandwagon, holding on for dear life. For a guy who had never laced up a pair of gloves before his mid-20s, Mitchell's promise was tantalizingly. His athletic intelligence was obvious, as were the hours he had spent in the gym, learning his new sport.
But then came November and his matchup with former cruiserweight and current Wladimir Klitschko trainer Johnathon Banks, an Emmanuel Steward prodigy since youth and the boxing equivalent of a PhD.
And that's a PhD with tenure at Kronk Gym, the boxing world version of Harvard or Yale.
Mitchell ended up being exposed for what he is: a great athlete who is still largely a boxing neophyte when measured at the elite level. The great American hope at heavyweight ended up receiving a first-class beatdown, as Banks went on to win by TKO in two.
But Mitchell is too promising to give up on just yet. American boxing fans have been hungry for a genuine heavyweight contender for a generation now, and if Mitchell has dropped back in interest behind the likes of Bryant Jennings and Deontay Wilder for right now, a great showing against Banks in their Feb. 16 rematch will have him right back in the mix.
Winning against Banks in a rematch will be no easy task, of course. I interviewed Mitchell about a week before his last clash with Banks and he certainly knew what he needed to do to win going into that fight.
In between the first and second rounds of that fight, Mitchell's trainer Andre Hunter could be heard giving him first rate notes on what he needed to do.
But the master technician Banks had no trouble preventing him from implementing the plan. Last November, he dragged Seth Mitchell out into the deep waters and calmly treaded water while watching his less experienced opponent desperately drown.
So the blue print for Seth Mitchell to beat Johnathon Banks in the rematch is nothing revolutionary. It is pretty much exactly what the blue print was supposed to be last time around.