- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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Top American heavyweight prospect Seth Mitchell, coming off an exciting three-round shootout against Chazz Witherspoon in April, will return to action against Johnathon Banks on July 14 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Golden Boy promotions announced Wednesday.
Mitchell-Banks will serve as the HBO-televised co-feature on the card headlined by former junior welterweight titlist Amir Khan (26-2, 18 KOs) of England taking on titleholder Danny Garcia (23-0, 14 KOs) of Philadelphia. Khan-Garcia came together unexpectedly after Khan's May 19 rematch with Lamont Peterson was canceled because Peterson tested positive for the banned substance synthetic testosterone in a random urine test.
"It's another big step for Seth Mitchell," Golden Boy Promotions chief executive Richard Schaefer told ESPN.com. "Johnathon Banks has only lost to Tomasz Adamek and, since he moved up to heavyweight, he is undefeated. It should be an exciting fight. Everybody knows how Seth fights. While Seth was playing football at Michigan State, Banks was already boxing, so this is another test for Seth against an experienced guy."
Mitchell (25-0, 19 KOs), a former Michigan State linebacker from Brandywine, Md., was badly hurt in the first round by Witherspoon on April 28 on the Chad Dawson-Bernard Hopkins II undercard at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J. But Mitchell, who turned 30 on Tuesday, came storming back to knock out Witherspoon in the third round.
Banks (28-1-1, 18 KOs), 29, of Detroit, is a former cruiserweight title challenger who has been fighting as a heavyweight since 2009, and has gone 8-0-1 in the weight class. His only loss came by eighth-round KO to then-cruiserweight champ Adamek -- who later became a top heavyweight contender -- in February 2009.
Banks is promoted by K2 Promotions, the company owned by heavyweight champion brothers Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko, with whom he has sparred countless rounds. So Golden Boy's ability to easily make a deal with K2 for Mitchell-Banks could be helpful if the time comes to make a deal for Mitchell to challenge one of the Klitschko brothers, who have openly talked about their desire to see Mitchell develop into a serious contender.
The Klitschkos want to see an American contender emerge in order for them to put together a major fight in the United States rather than fighting primarily in Germany, where they are major stars.
"Banks knows what a win over Seth Mitchell would mean. It would be a huge win against the best American (heavyweight) prospect," Schaefer said. "For Seth, it's another step in building his experience and his career. We think that in the next 12 months, Seth Mitchell will compete for one of the major heavyweight titles. Our goal is for him to be the first American heavyweight champion in a long time. We are not just looking for Seth to go over to Germany to face one of the Klitschko brothers and pick up a big check or have them come here to face Seth and just get a big check. We are not a Klitschko timetable.
"We will stay the course with Seth and make the right fights for him and this fight with Johnathon Banks is the right fight for Seth, who we believe will be a future heavyweight champion."
The last American heavyweight titlist was Shannon Briggs, who lost his piece of the title to Sultan Ibragimov in June 2007.