Mitchell, from Brandywine, originally was scheduled to fight Banks on July 14 in Las Vegas. That bout was postponed May 31 after a visit by Mitchell to an orthopedist revealed a sprained MCL in the boxer’s right hand. The injury occurred during Mitchell’s third-round technical knockout of Chazz Witherspoon on April 28 for the vacant North American Boxing Organization belt.
Mitchell then was supposed to fight Banks as part of the undercard for a main event involving lightweight Adrien Broner on Oct. 6, but promoters struggled to find an opponent for Broner, forcing that card to be moved as well.
When Mitchell, 30, finally steps into the ring again, the former All-Met football player from Gwynn Park and linebacker at Michigan State will have had the most protracted layoff without a fight in his career.
“At this stage, each fight is big,” he said in a telephone interview. “I’m excited. I feel I’ve learned a lot. I don’t stay out of the gym.”
Mitchell (25-0-1, 19 knockouts) took three weeks off from workouts since his last bout but otherwise maintained his physical fitness regime while his team continued to seek an official fight date. The third incarnation of Mitchell-Banks will be a co-headliner with Broner’s fight against Antonio DeMarco for the WBC lightweight belt, and the card will be televised on HBO.
In his most recent bout against Witherspoon, which also took place at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, Mitchell absorbed substantial punishment in the first round and nearly went to the canvas. But Mitchell rallied in the second round before referee Randy Neumann stopped the fight at 2 minutes 31 seconds in the third.
Mitchell 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 choosing his opponents since he began fighting in January 2008 because one loss could push back an opportunity for a bout against unified heavyweight champion Vladimir Klitschko, who in recent years has expressed interest in fighting Mitchell.
“My team and I have always set a timeline since Day One for the latter part of 2013,” Mitchell said of fighting for the heavyweight title. “I would say we’re still on that timeline.”