- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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Heavyweight contender Johnathon Banks broke his right thumb in sparring on Tuesday, forcing postponement of his rematch against Seth Mitchell, Golden Boy promoter Richard Schaefer said.
Banks and Mitchell were due to meet for the second time on Feb. 16 in the HBO co-featured bout on the card headlined by Adrien Broner's first lightweight title defense against Gavin Rees at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J.
Schaefer said he was informed of the injury by Banks' promoter, Tom Loeffler of K2 Promotions, on Wednesday morning.
Schaefer said Loeffler told him that Banks (29-1-1, 19 KOs) hurt the thumb and then went to see a hand specialist.
"I was told he was icing his thumb and hoping the swelling would go down and then (Wednesday) morning when he woke up, the swelling and pain were worse," Schaefer said.
Banks is expected to be sidelined for six-to-eight weeks. Schaefer said he hopes to reschedule the fight.
Schaefer said the card would still go on with Broner (25-0, 21 KOs), of Cincinnati, making his first title defense against Rees (37-1-1, 18 KOs), a former junior welterweight titlist from Wales.
Schaefer and HBO are talking about adding one of the undercard fights to the broadcast to replace Banks-Mitchell II -- a super middleweight title eliminator between Sakio Bika (30-5-2, 21 KOs), a native of Cameroon based in Australia, and Nikola Sjekloca (25-0, 7 KOs) of Montenegro. The winner is due to become a mandatory challenger for champion Andre Ward.
Banks, 30, of Detroit, and Mitchell, 30, of Brandywine, Md., first met Nov. 17 at Boardwalk Hall on the undercard of Broner's lightweight title victory against Antonio DeMarco. Mitchell was a significant favorite but Banks pulled the upset. He dropped Mitchell three times en route to a second-round knockout victory.
Banks' win came a week after he trained heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko to a successful title defense in place of the late Hall-of-Fame trainer Emanuel Steward, Klitschko's longtime trainer and Banks' father figure.
Within a couple of weeks after the fight, Mitchell (25-1-1, 19 KOs) exercised his contractual right to a rematch with Banks.
The postponement of the fight is another in a series of high-profile cancellations and postponements already this year, including three with Golden Boy.
Ward's shoulder injury and subsequent surgery forced the cancellation of his title defense against former middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik, which was supposed to be on Jan. 26 and later March 2 before being scrapped.
Golden Boy fights postponed besides Banks-Mitchell II include the Danny Garcia-Zab Judah junior welterweight title fight and Devon Alexander-Kell Brook welterweight title bout.
Garcia injured a rib last week, forcing the fight to be moved from Feb. 9 to April 27. On Monday, Alexander-Brook was postponed for the second time. It had been scheduled for Jan. 19 but moved to Feb. 23 after Brook suffered an ankle injury. Now it is in limbo again after Alexander suffered a severely strained biceps.