Seth Mitchell had come into his fight with Johnathon Banks in November as a heavy favorite. Mitchell was the rising American heavyweight hope being mentioned by heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko as a possible title challenger.
But after less than two full rounds it was suddenly over as Banks -- who also trains Klitschko -- bounced Mitchell off the canvas three times in the second round to score the stunningly easy knockout victory as he stripped Mitchell of his undefeated record. Mitchell said he took the defeat hard and that it ruined his Thanksgiving.
"This is my first pro loss and it was a hard loss," Mitchell said. "It took me about a week to get over the loss, but I truly believe that everything happens for a reason. Everybody that knows me, they know that I went back to the drawing board."
Now it's time to see what Mitchell has learned and to find out whether he can turn the tables when he faces Banks in a rematch Saturday night (Showtime, 9 ET; preliminary bouts on Showtime Extreme beginning at 7 ET/PT) at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.
"I'm preparing diligently. I'm very focused for this fight," Mitchell said. "I know Johnathon Banks is preparing hard as well. It's going to be a great fight. I don't do a lot of talking. I just go back to the drawing board and work hard. I'm very confident in my abilities. I'm very confident in what I can do, and there's no doubt in my mind that I'm going to come out victorious this time."
The rematch was scheduled for Feb. 16, but it was postponed two weeks before the fight when Banks (29-1-1, 19 KOs), 30, of Detroit, broke his right thumb in a sparring session.
Although Mitchell (25-1-1, 19 KOs), 31, of Brandywine, Md., wasn't happy about the delay, he looked on the bright side, taking it as an opportunity to train more and to continue dissecting what happened in November.
"I've watched the fight numerous times," Mitchell said. "I saw a lot of mistakes that I made. I'm not taking anything away from Johnathon. He did what he was supposed to do that night, but I promise you it's going to be a different outcome. I just want everybody to tune in because I will be ready.
"I was ready to fight on Feb. 16 and I was really disappointed when the fight got canceled, but again, I go back to my belief that everything happens for a reason and that just allowed me to hone my skills, to get better and to be more prepared for this fight. I'm definitely a better fighter. I'm not going to keep saying that. I just have to go out there and show you what I've learned from that fight, what Johnathon Banks has taught me from that fight, and you will see that on [Saturday]."
Said Banks, "I expect a smarter and very well prepared Seth Mitchell for this rematch."
Welterweight titlist Paulie Malignaggi of Brooklyn will make his second defense when he faces lightweight titleholder Adrien Broner of Cincinnati in the main event. Sakio Bika (31-5-2, 21 KOs), a native of Cameroon living in Australia, and Mexico's Marco Antonio Periban (20-0, 13 KOs) will meet for a vacant super middleweight belt in the opener of the TV tripleheader.
After such a rough defeat, many fighters -- or their management, anyway -- would take a step back. Few would rush into a rematch with the man who had knocked them out. There might be an interim fight, maybe two, before a rematch was sought.
Mitchell had a rematch clause in his contract but could have opted for a more cautious return. He said that was never in his mind, though, and that from the moment the fight ended he intended to pursue the immediate rematch.
"This is a true story," Mitchell said. "When I went back into the dressing room, I was devastated that I had lost. It was a tough loss for me, but my first question to [adviser] Al [Haymon] -- I asked him two questions. I said, 'How far did this set me back?' and 'When can we get the rematch?' That was my first two questions to Al, and I just wanted to get back.
"When stakes are high -- this is a very, very important fight for me, and I understand that -- I don't tend to bet with my heart. When I'm betting, I bet with my head, and I truly believe that I can beat Johnathon Banks. He beat me the first fight, but I truly believe that I'm a better fighter and I have to show better than what I showed, and that was just my mindset. I wanted to get in there and correct this wrong."
Mitchell said that Haymon told him the loss would set him back about seven or eight months and that he would make sure he got the rematch in his next fight. Mitchell said the idea of taking an interim fight to regain some confidence or to work on some of his flaws never entered his mind, and that nobody on his team suggested it.
"The only time that came up is when Johnathon got hurt, and once Johnathon got hurt, honestly, I didn't want to wait seven months, another four months to fight him," Mitchell said. "I wanted to stay active and fight, but things happen for a reason. That didn't happen, and [Saturday] it's going to be Johnathon Banks."
In retrospect, Banks' victory shouldn't have come as that big of a shock. Mitchell, a former Michigan State linebacker, had a very limited amateur career and didn't even begin boxing until he was in his 20s.
Banks, on the other hand, has been boxing for years and learned at the side of his mentor and father figure, the late Hall of Fame trainer Emanuel Steward, who died shortly before Banks trained Klitschko in Steward's place to a victory in a title defense and then attended Steward's funeral.
By the time he got to Atlantic City, N.J., to fight Mitchell, Banks was running on the pure emotion of his first victory as a trainer and mourning Steward.
"I know that I was prepared and that I was just going out for a fight," Banks said. "So people may say that I was hyped up over the death of Steward, that this was a fluke, but it doesn't bother me. I've heard it. It plays no effect on me. I don't believe in flukes."
Fluke or otherwise, Banks and Mitchell both admitted they feel the pressure heading into Saturday's fight.
"I think the pressure's on me. I do," Banks said. "I think the pressure's on me that they're saying he came on TV, he did this and let's see if he can do it again. I think the pressure's on me. I accept the challenge, too. I've never ran from pressure. I accept it. I embrace it."
As for Mitchell: "I think the pressure's on me. It's one thing to lose, but it's another thing to lose back-to-back to the same fighter. So I believe the pressure is on me, but I've said this from day one: I want to be in a situation where the stakes are high. That means you're headed in the right direction. So I think the pressure is on me. I accept it. I relish the challenge."