Johnathon Banks vs. Seth Mitchell: Head-to-Toe Breakdown of Both Fighters

Kevin McRaeFeatured ColumnistJune 18, 2013

Johnathon Banks vs. Seth Mitchell: Head-to-Toe Breakdown of Both Fighters

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    When Johnathon Banks and Seth Mitchell met for the first time on a cold November night in Atlantic City, it seemed their career paths were heading in opposite directions.

    Mitchell, then undefeated, was considered to be the best amongst a relatively weak crop of fighters that hoped to stake a claim to being the next great American heavyweight. He was a win away from securing a title shot and just had to take care of business against the seemingly light-hitting Banks.

    Jonathon Banks entered the fight having more recently made a name for himself as a trainer, working with the late Emanuel Steward in the corner of heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko. He was considered a solid, if unspectacular, fighter that just wouldn't have enough firepower to hold off the younger Mitchell.

    But that's why they fight in the ring. Banks stunned the crowd, and the boxing world, by knocking Mitchell out in the second round and derailing his rise to the top. The two will fight a rematch this Saturday night on the undercard of Malignaggi vs. Broner.

    Read on for our head-to-toe breakdown of the fight.

Fight Info

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    Fight: Johnathon Banks (29-1-1, 19 KO) vs. Seth Mitchell (25-1-1, 19 KO)

    Where: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY

    When: June 22, 2013

    TV: Showtime

Boxing Ability

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    Banks: Johnathon Banks is known as more of a boxer and less of a puncher than he showed in Atlantic City during his first fight with Seth Mitchell. But in just two rounds it's hard to get a true gauge of how a fight would've gone, had it continued. 

    Banks has good footwork and has made his bones in the sport as a counterpuncher. Having trained under the late, great Emanuel Steward, he knows how to get the most out of his talents and employs good headwork. He uses a good jab to keep his opponents at bay, and will be smart to do this against Mitchell on Saturday night.

    Mitchell: The thing that got Seth Mitchell into trouble in the first fight was his lack of true boxing ability. He doesn't have much of a jab and has a hard time setting up power shots against a smart fighter the likes of Banks. 

    Too often his strategy has been to follow his opponent around the ring in the hopes of landing something decisive that will change the fight. That seemed to work before running into Banks, and getting hit hard himself in return, but he'll need to address it if he hopes to avenge his only loss.

    Advantage: Banks. Clearly Mitchell has serious holes in his boxing ability, and Banks was able to exploit them last time around. He is clearly the better boxer of the two.

Power

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    Banks: On paper, 19 knockouts in 29 victories isn't all that impressive for a heavyweight fighter. But power isn't necessarily a measure of how strong you are, but of how precise you can be with your punches. 

    It's pretty clear that any professional heavyweight who walks into the ring north of 200 pounds can hurt you if he hits you. And that seems to be what happened on Nov. 17, when Banks stunningly dropped, and stopped, Seth Mitchell in the second round. But his power that night had more to do with his precision counters and his opponents inexperience than any great surge in power on his part.

    Mitchell: Seth Mitchell is an imposing physical specimen and one hell of a pure athlete. He's built like a tank and has the ability to hit like a truck. His problem isn't his power, it's that he hasn't yet figured out the best ways to harness it.

    Mitchell lacks a true and effective jab to set up his bigger shots, which gets him into trouble. He is definitely a strong, powerful fighter, but what does that matter if he's unable to land his shots?

    Advantage: Mitchell. Seth Mitchell is clearly the more powerful puncher, but Johnathon Banks is more precise and gets more from less. 

Defense

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    Banks: Johnathon Banks is a protege of Emanuel Steward, so it goes without saying that he's worked extensively on the defensive aspects of his game. He can definitely be hit, Tomasz Adamek got to him just fine, but for a fighter of Mitchell's style it might not be that easy. 

    Banks likes to stay behind his defense and use a good jab and counterpunching to win the fight. How well he'll be able to hold Mitchell off this time, should the fight go longer and Seth learn from his mistakes, remains to be seen.

    Mitchell: Seth Mitchell is one of those fighters who uses his offensive skill and athletic prowess to get himself through his fights. But too often he simply follows around his opponent, walking into shots to land his own. 

    That worked against his opponents up to, but not including, Banks. When he got into trouble against Banks, he didn't clinch or try to hold on. Those were crucial mistakes, and the type of defensive tactic that can buy time to get back into the fight. If he gets in trouble this time he'll need to remember that. 

    Advantage: Banks. Mitchell's defensive flaws were clearly exposed in their first match. They left him open to get caught with big shots that ended the fight.

Game Plan

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    Banks: For Johnathon Banks, little changes from the first fight. He will need to avoid Seth Mitchell's power, utilize his jab to keep him from getting inside and tie him up when he does.

    Banks will want to connect with short, crisp counters and exploit his opponents technical and defensive flaws. He also has the added advantage of knowing that he can hurt, and in fact stop, his opponent. But that doesn't mean he should be too brave. Ring intelligence is a key part of this game plan, and Banks cannot afford to be goaded into Mitchell's fight.

    Mitchell: Seth Mitchell has to make major adjustments if he hopes to avenge his loss. He looked amateurish and unprepared for prime time in his first fight with Banks.

    Plodding around the ring hoping to land one big shot works against lower-level opposition, but Banks is smart, slick and has an excellent boxing pedigree. Mitchell will need to work hard at establishing a jab that will enable him to set up his power shots. He's clearly the bigger fighter and will want to cut off the ring and allow his size and power to become decisive factors in the fight. 

    Advantage: Banks. There are simply too many things that Seth Mitchell needs to address. Granted he's had eight months to do it, but developing a jab, improving defense and making this many technical changes at 31 years old is very difficult.

Prediction

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    Seth Mitchell is obviously the superior athletic specimen. He's bigger, stronger and on paper would appear to be an overwhelming favorite against Johnathon Banks. But sometimes a guy just has another fighter's number.

    That will prove to be the case on Saturday night in the Barclays Center. Mitchell simply is too flawed as a fighter; he doesn't possess a good jab, has defense that can be at best described as shaky and is technically flawed.

    He's absolutely built to be beaten by a smart, slick, fighter with the boxing IQ of Johnaton Banks. Mitchell will not get knocked out in the second round again, he'll make enough adjustments to keep the fight going longer, but he will not be able to fix enough to avoid getting stopped again.

    The book here says that Mitchell attacks early with some limited success, but he doesn't pace himself and begins to tire in the middle rounds. That's where Banks will stop him, not necessarily from a big punch, but from a combination of frustration and exhaustion that leaves Mitchell open for a big shot.

    Banks TKO 8 Mitchell