ATLANTIC CITY — Unbeaten heavyweight prospect Seth “Mayhem” Mitchell was once named Maryland’s Defensive Player of the Year at Gwynn Park High in Brandywine, Md., by the Associated Press. Later, he starred as a scholarship linebacker at Michigan State before graduating with a degree in criminal justice.
But Mitchell grew up in Virginia Beach, Va., with little knowledge of a father who separated from his mother, Jeanette Mitchell, when he was 5.
Mitchell only met his father three times before the man died in 2006, and moved to Brandywine to live with his grandparents when he was 12.
“When I look back, I wish I would have had a relationship with my father. Through football and basketball, I had a lot of father figures in my life. I had a lot of role models that helped and guided me,” said Mitchell, who is married and has both a son and a daughter.
“Looking back knowing the relationship that I have with my son, and how I cherish that, I do wish I would have had a relationship with my father. I get up in the morning and I fix breakfast. I take the kids to school. I run, go to the gym and then I pick them up from school. My wife works, so we are a team.”
On Saturday night at Boardwalk Hall, Mitchell (25-0-1, 19 knockouts) will continue to his monetary part of the job for his family when he faces Detroit’s Johnathon Banks (28-1-1, 18 KOs) on the HBO-televised undercard of a main event between WBC lightweight beltholder Antonio DeMarco (28-2-1, 21 KOs) and former WBO junior lightweight beltholder Adrien Broner (24-0, 20 KOs).
Mitchell stopped Ibragimov on the undercard of a main event during which Lamont Peterson earned a split-decision over Amir Khan at The Washington Convention Center, and he halted Witherspoon on the undercard of Chad Dawson’s unanimous decision over Bernard Hopkins at Boardwalk Hall.
Banks has long served as a sparring partner for the Ukrainian Klitschko brothers, Vitali Klitschko or Wladimir Klitschko. Wladimor is the RING, IBF, WBA and WBO champ, and Vitali, the WBC’s beltholder.
Mitchell is among the American heavyweights seen as a potential challenger to one of the Klitschkos, and believes he has the heart, determination and talent to one day do so.
“I’m a competitive person by nature. If we were playing tic-tac-toe, you would see that same aggressiveness. My wife gets mad at me because I don’t let my six year old daughter win at anything,” said Mitchell.
“I believe including this fight, Lord willing, I do what I’m supposed to do, I believe I’m two or three more fights away from a title shot. I don’t think I’m that far away at all.”
Banks was a former security guard for fellow Detroit native and rap artist Eminem, whose music often accompanies his ring walk.
One of Banks’ favorites from Eminem is “Lose Yourself,” from the rapper’s hit movie “8 mile.”
“One of the lines in that song is, ‘do not miss you chance and blow it. So when I hear certain words that he uses, and the way that he puts them together, it’s really nice, man. I like it,” said Banks.
“I used to work for Eminem. That’s how I know him. When I was an amateur, I used to work security for him,” said Banks. “I did security at his house, I used to go with him to the clubs, stuff like that.”
Although Banks will enter the ring to the tunes of another musician on Saturday night, he, nevertheless, maintains a relationship with Eminem.
“In New Jersey, you need written permission from the artist to use their music, or from whoever owns their business,” said Banks. “So I have another artist I had to make some music for me, and he’ll be here to fill out the music form.”
DEMARCO: ‘DON’T BE SURPRISED TO SEE ME BOX’
The talented Broner is widely considered to be the favorite against DeMarco, with much of that being his defensive wizardry and boxing abiility.
Although Broner, himself, has described Saturday night’s matchup as “speed versus power,” he has walked down and finished off his past four opponents by knockout.
To that end, DeMarco said he is prepared to make adjustments, even perhaps getting on his own bicycle.
“Every fight is different,” said DeMarco, a winner of five straight fights, including four by knockout. “We don’t know until we get in the ring, but don’t be surprised if you see me box.”
Broner believes that he will have an answer for whatever DeMarco has to offer.
“Once that bell rings, I make my adjustments,” said Broner. “And usually with a couple of adjustments, the fight is over.”
Photos by Naoki Fukuda
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org