“It’s definitely a tragedy,” Mitchell said on Thursday afternoon during a workout at his Dream Team gym in Clinton. “I’m just glad I can be a part of bringing back some excitement to Jersey. It’s going to be an exciting event. I know last time I had a lot of people come to New Jersey, and I’m expecting the same thing.”
Mitchell’s most recent bout also was at Boardwalk Hall, where he scored a third-round knockout of Chazz Witherspoon to win the vacant NABO belt. That match took place on April 28, meaning when Mitchell steps into the ring a week from Saturday, more than six months will have passed since he last fought.
The longest layoff of Mitchell’s career stems from a combination of injury and postponements. Originally scheduled to fight Banks on July 14 in Las Vegas, Mitchell withdrew May 31 when a visit to an orthopedist revealed a sprained MCL in the boxer’s right hand suffered against Witherspoon.
“I know a lot of people are thinking about my hand, going to ask questions about my hand,” said Mitchell, who took three weeks off from workouts since his last bout but otherwise maintained his regular fitness regime while his team continued to seek a new fight date. “My hand feels great. I’ve been pounding on it for the last three months.”
Mitchell, 30, then was supposed to fight Banks as part of a main event involving Adrien Broner on Oct. 6, but promoters struggled to find an opponent for the former super featherweight champion, forcing that card to be moved as well. The third incarnation of Mitchell-Banks will be a co-headliner with Broner’s fight against Antonio DeMarco for the World Boxing Council lightweight title, and the card will be televised on HBO.
Mitchell (25-0-1, 19 knockouts) often has been mentioned as perhaps the most qualified candidate to bring the world heavyweight championship back to the United States. His team has been cautious, though, in selecting opponents since he began fighting in January 2008 because one loss could push back an opportunity for a bout against unified heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko, who in recent years has expressed interest in fighting Mitchell.
“We were nervous when Sandy started roaring her raggedy head,” said Sharif Salim, Mitchell’s manager. “But we’re happy it’s still in Atlantic City. Our biggest victory was April 28 in Atlantic City. We like that it’s in the big hall, the big convention center, and we also feel [the fight] will prove to everybody hopefully that they are welcoming hosts for big events and that city is open for business.”