Seth Mitchell, in this June 2011 photo, (Mark Gail/The Washington Post)

by Gene Wang

The rematch between Brandywine boxer Seth Mitchell and Johnathon Banks has been postponed because of a right thumb injury to Banks, according to fight promoters, less two weeks before the heavyweight contenders were scheduled to co-headline Adrien Broner’s lightweight title defense against Gavin Rees in Atlantic City.

Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer confirmed Banks broke his thumb during training and will not be able to participate in the bout originally set for Feb. 16 at Boardwalk Hall, where the North American Boxing Organization champion last scored a second-round knockout against the heavily favored Mitchell Nov. 17.

Mitchell (25-1-1, 19 knockouts) lost for the first time after winning his previous 10 fights via knockout, with only one of those bouts lasting beyond the fifth round. Shortly after the stunning result, Mitchell exercised a mandatory rematch clause stipulated in the fight contract.

Banks is expected to be out six to eight weeks, and no new date has been set for Mitchell-Banks II. Discussions, meantime, are in the works to replace Mitchell-Banks II perhaps with a super middleweight title eliminator between Sakio Bika and Nikola Sjekolca, with the winner becoming a mandatory challenger for Andre Ward.

“I believe I’ve learned from [losing], and I can tell in my technique, and I can tell in my sparring sessions just how I see things a lot better,” Mitchell said. “Without disclosing too much of what we’ve been working on, it’s definitely made me a better fighter.”

The postponement marks the third time a bout between Mitchell and Banks (29-1-1, 19 KOs) will have been delayed. The pair initially was supposed to fight for the first time July 14, 2012, in Las Vegas, but the bout was postponed May 31 when Mitchell’s visit to an orthopedist revealed a sprained MCL in his right hand.

The injury occurred during Mitchell’s third-round knockout of Chazz Witherspoon April 28 at Boardwalk Hall. Mitchell and Banks then were to be part of an Oct. 6 card featuring Broner, but promoters struggled to find a suitable opponent for Broner, and that card was moved.

During the first Mitchell-Banks fight, Mitchell was coming off the longest layoff of his career without a match. The ring rust showed early, and Banks connected with a left uppercut that wobbled Mitchell in the second round.

Dazed and off-balance, Mitchell went down twice more in the round. Following the third knockdown, referee Eddie Cotton stood over the former All-Met linebacker from Gwynn Park High School and waved his arms to end the bout.

The loss placed in serious jeopardy Mitchell’s pursuit of the heavyweight championship of the world, which has not resided in the United States since 2007. Mitchell, 30, often has discussed his aspiration to fight one of the Klitschko brothers for the world heavyweight title, and a second loss almost certainly would derail any chance of reaching that lucrative payday.

Vitali Klitschko is the World Boxing Council champion and ranked No. 1 in the division. Wladimir, meantime, owns titles in the International Boxing Federation, World Boxing Organization, International Boxing Organization and World Boxing Association and has mentioned Mitchell as a prospective opponent.

“I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s a career-ending fight,” Mitchell said when asked if he considered his rematch against Banks a must win. “But it’s a big fight. It’s a big fight in my career, and I’d be foolish to say it wasn’t. I’m prepared for it. I want to be in position where the stakes are high, and the stakes couldn’t