Heavyweight Seth “Mayhem” Mitchell gave RingTV.com a glimpse of his training in Lynchburg, Va., in advance of his HBO-televised Feb. 16 rematch with Johnathon Banks, to whom he lost by second-round knockout in November.
A former high school and collegiate star linebacker whose return bout with Banks will take place, yet again, at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.
The loss ended a 23-fight streak for Mitchell (25-1-1, 19 knockouts), of Brandywine, Md., while Banks (29-1-1, 19 KOs) improved to 9-0-1, with five knockouts as a heavyweight, having moved up from cruiserweight in 2009.
Mitchell was named Maryland’s Defensive Player of the Year as a senior at Gwynn Park High in Brandywine by the Associated Press, and later starred as a scholarship linebacker at Michigan State before graduating with a degree in criminal justice.
In tomorrow’s Super Bowl between the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers, Mitchell favors the Ravens and star linebacker Ray Lewis, but will also keep an eye on two 49ers players — linebacker Navarro Bowman and tight end Vernon Davis — each of whom has roots near Mitchell’s home town.
Davis, 29, stood out at Dunbar High in Washington, D.C., as well as at the University of Maryland. Bowman, 24, graduated from Suitland High in Forestville, Md., and later from Penn State.
Like Mitchell, Bowman hails from Prince George’s County, and was named Defensive Player of the Year by The Associated Press.
Seth Mitchell: Training is going well. We’re working on a lot of things. I’m not going to let the cat out of the bag, but we’re working on a lot of things.
The main thing, though, is always being on balance and knowing my distance when I let my hands go. That’s one of the main things — my balance and my distance.
We’ve been drilling and drilling and working repetitions. I definitely think that it’s paying off. I’ve seen a difference in my sparring.
I definitely see an improvement in my game, and I’m excited, and, on Feb. 16, everyone will be able to see that. I know it’s a big fight, but I’m ready for it and this is what I’ve signed up for.
SM: I’ve never met him, but he’s No. 53. He’s a dog. I’ve been watching him play in the playoffs and everything, and he’s definitely a dog. He’s definitely got the tenacity.
One thing about him is that he’s got great size, but he’s also a player who has the durability to stay on the field, whether it’s the first down or the third down.
He’s got great coverage skills, and I definitely like what I see in him. He’s a dog. He can come up and plug that hole, and he’ll cover that crossing route too.
RingTV.com: Your thoughts on another area player for the 49ers, Vernon Davis?
SM: I’ve never met him either, but he’s a tight end that has the skills of a wide receiver. Big boy who can block. Sometimes, you have tight ends who are just receiver tight ends.
But he can stay in there and help on the pass protection and he also has 4.4-, or, 4.3-second speed, and he can catch the ball. He’s definitely a threat. I like him.
RingTV.com: Who wins the Super Bowl on Sunday?
SM: “I think it’s going to be a good game. I think it’s going to be a mid-20 score. I’m going with the Ravens, even though I think it’s going to be a pick-‘em game.
But I’m going with the Ravens, because I’m a big fan of Ray Lewis’. I think it’s going to be a 27-24 victory for the Ravens.
I think that they’ll win because they’re hot right now and they’re jelling right now. Overall, if you look at their defense, their special teams and their offense, the 49ers have a better team.
But the Ravens are playing like they’re destined for this victory. They’re just jelling right now, so I’m picking the Ravens to win the game. I mean, it wouldn’t surprise me if the 49ers won, but I’ll go with the Ravens.
RingTV.com: Do you think that the PED controversey involving Ray Lewis is having any negative affect on the Ravens?
I don’t think that the controversy has hurt him. I think that Ray Lewis is always going to find a way to pump some venom into his team. I think that he’s a master at making the players around him play better.
I was just talking to somebody about it and they asked me what type of game I think Ray Lewis is going to have and I think that he’s going to have a good game.
But you can’t really dictate that solely on his individual stats. His play goes beyond the stats because he elevates the play of his teammates.
So Ray Lewis’ impact on the game is not just measured on his individual stats, but also, how he rallies his team around him. The team and I, down here in Lynchburg, Va., we’ll watch the game down here.
Photos by Naoki Fukuda
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com