ATLANTIC CITY - Heavyweight contender Seth Mitchell has a competitive streak that extends beyond the boxing ring.
Mitchell, who faces Johnathon Banks at Boardwalk Hall on Saturday night on the Antonio DeMarco-Adrien Broner card, can't stand to lose at anything against anyone.
"My wife (Danielle) gets mad at me because I won't even let my 6-year-old daughter (Aurielle) win against me at tic-tac-toe," Mitchell said Thursday at Caesars Atlantic City.
"My wife has seen my competitive side, too. When we were at Michigan State, we were playing rock-paper-scissors and whoever got to 10 first would win. She was ahead of me 9-1 and I started shaking inside. I wound up beating her 10-9 and she got really mad.
"She always gets even with me when we play Scrabble, though. I can't beat her at that. There was also the time we were at an event that had one of those rock-climbing walls. She went right to the top, but I couldn't do it. I blamed it on the fact that my jeans were too tight. I'm just a very, very competitive person."
Mitchell (25-0-1, 19 KOs), a former middle linebacker at Michigan State, has yet to lose since becoming a pro fighter four years ago. The 30-year-old settled for a draw in his third pro fight in 2008, but has since reeled off 23 straight victories. He has won his last 10 bouts by knockout or TKO, including a third-round TKO over Paulsboro native Chazz Witherspoon (30-3, 22 KOs) at Boardwalk Hall seven months ago.
The Brandywine, Md., resident has become a very popular fighter on the East Coast, especially in the Washington, D.C.-Baltimore area. Six busloads of supporters are expected to be among the 6,000 or so fans at Boardwalk Hall on Saturday night. They will all be sitting in specific areas of the arena dubbed "Mayhem" sections, which is Mitchell's nickname.
The last fighter to draw that kind of support at Boardwalk Hall was former middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik, who drew more than 1,000 fans from his native Youngstown, Ohio, for his bouts against Jermaine Taylor, Gary Lockett, Bernard Hopkins and Sergio Martinez at Boardwalk Hall from 2007-2010.
"It feels good to be back in Atlantic City," said Mitchell, who is ranked No. 2 by the WBO. "Boardwalk Hall is kind of a home away from home for me. I'm really excited about this fight. It's not going to be easy, but I believe this is my time. I just have to stay grounded and focused and I think I'll be ready to fight for a world title after two or three more fights."
Banks (28-1-1, 18 KOs) is no pushover, however.
Since suffering his only loss in 2009 to then-IBF cruiserweight champion Tomasz Adamek, the 26-year-old Detroit native is unbeaten (9-0-1, 4 KOs) as a heavyweight.
Banks has a decided edge in fighting experience that predates his pro debut in 2004. As one of Charlene and Terry Banks' 10 children, he had to wage daily battles for the bathroom and a spot at the dinner table.
"I have six sisters and three brothers and the older ones used to beat me up all the time," Banks said with a laugh. "Most of the fights were in the morning. We didn't have to go to school until 8 (a.m.), but us boys had to get up at 5:30 if we wanted to use the bathroom before the girls got in there, because they would take forever.
"But my brothers and I were very protective of our mom and our sisters. Our dad wasn't around much, so we felt like it was up to us to take care of them. We used to make extra money by shoveling snow and raking leaves for people. And all the money we made went to our mom."
Now he makes extra money as a boxing trainer.
Last Saturday, he was in the corner for heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko's victory over Mariusz Wach in Hamburg, Germany. A longtime sparring partner and good friend of brothers Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko, Banks took over the training duties following the death of legendary trainer Emanuel Steward on Oct. 25.
Like most Detroit fighters, Banks got his start in boxing in Steward's famous Kronk Gym. Banks attended Steward's memorial service earlier this week in Detroit on his way to Atlantic City.
"Becoming Wladimir's trainer did not affect my preparation for this fight at all," Banks said. "If anything, it motivated me even more. The fact that this legendary trainer and this tremendous athlete trusted me brought out something in me I didn't know I had. I don't know what it is, exactly, but I'm more motivated than ever before."
Punchlines: Today's weigh-in for Banks-Mitchell and DeMarco-Broner will be held today at 3:30 p.m. at the Circus Maximus Theatre at Caesars and is open to the public. ... Broner (24-0, 20 KOs), the former WBO super-featherweight champ, is moving up in weight to challenge DeMarco (28-2-1, 21 KOs), the WBC lightweight champ. ... Golden Boy Promotions is donating $2 per ticket sold and $1,000 per knockout on the nine-fight card to the Atlantic City Boys & Girls Club. Golden Boy president Oscar De La Hoya and Caesars Atlantic City are matching the donations.
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