The American heavyweight division has left a lot to be desired over the last 15-plus years. And there is no Mike Tyson, Riddick Bowe or Evander Holyfield on the horizon.
But on Saturday night on the Adrien Broner-Paulie Malignaggi undercard at the Barclays Center, two of America’s best chances for a heavyweight title –Jonathan Banks and Seth Mitchell– will square off.
The last time the two met, on November 17 in Atlantic City, Banks (28-1-1) caught Mitchell (25-1-1) sleeping and dropped him in the second round. It was the first and only loss of Mitchell’s career.
Mitchell called it an upset. Banks says otherwise.
“I don’t consider the last fight with Mitchell an upset. For me to say it was an upset would be a discredit to myself,” said Banks. “I don’t like upsets in my life. If I didn’t think 100 percent that I was going to win, I would’ve have taken that fight.”
Mitchell is of course looking for revenge.
“Banks capitalized on some of my mistakes and got the victory,” said Mitchell. “I just had to go back to the drawing board and take it as a learning experience to try to get better.”
This is an important fight on many levels, especially for Banks.
Banks is hoping to step in the ring with IBF, WBO and IBO champion Wladimir Klitschko at some point. A loss would be devastating for Banks, who is currently fourth in the IBF ratings behind Kubrat Pulev and Bryant Jennings.
Klitschko, who takes pride in having the three championships, will not relinquish any of the belts by not fighting the mandatory challenger, so Banks needs to keep winning to get his turn.
Banks is second in the WBO ratings and the same scenario applies. Saturday would be another step toward a title shot for Banks.
There is also the matter of Philadelphia heavyweight phenom Bryant Jennings. Jennings is 17-0 and regarded as arguably the best American in the division. A loss for either fighter would upset the current pecking order and drop both a notch below Jennings in boxing circles.