On Saturday night, the Scottish Exhibition Centre in Glasgow played host to the culmination of one of the UK's longest brewing domestic clashes as local hero and WBO lightweight champion Ricky Burns engaged in a barnburner against popular Dagenham based opponent Kevin Mitchell.
Former amateur star Mitchell was now finally getting a world title shot after a nine-year career, being groomed during numerous IBF and WBO Intercontinental title bouts amid a brief reign as Commonwealth super feather beltholder before getting stopped by Michael Katsidis for the Interim WBO lightweight strap two years ago.
Burns had a harder road along the way, dropping European, Commonwealth and British super feather title opportunities to the likes of Alex Arthur and Carl Johanneson early on before hitting paydirt against reigning WBO super feather king Rocky Martinez in 2010.
After three title defenses, Burns stepped up to lightweight and outboxed Katsidis for the Interim WBO trophy before winning full WBO honors against Paulus Moses in March.
It's remarkable that Burns and Mitchell had not faced each other prior to Saturday night and the pairing had been one of the most anticipated domestic contests of the year since its announcement.
Once the bell rang in Glasgow, Burns came out aggressive, looking to put Mitchell on notice that this was his town, his ring and his title. The champion backed up the Londoner with the jab and was soon throwing hard right hands.
The unexpected tactics from Burns the boxer had the desired effect as Mitchell appeared a bit taken aback but soon the challenger was finding a home for a nice lead left hook.
Burns kept up the pressure and began to score with the lethal looking straight right. Mitchell dug in a hard left to the body before Burns returned the favor. Mitchell started his jab, following up with crisp rights.
Near round's end the pair threw caution to the wind and went toe-to-toe, thrilling the Glasgow audience by ramming home flush right hands at point blank range.
Burns started the second at a slightly more measured pace but soon the fighters were trading right hands again before missing wild left hooks. Mitchell got in two good counter rights when Burns missed with the jab but still the champion came forward, bringing the pressure.
Michell went to the body but was soon rushed by Burns, who fired off combinations with both hands, knocking the challenger back on his heels. Mitchell sought to hold the center of the ring behind body shots and left hooks, but was soon put on the ropes by Burns, who unleashed a torrent of leather.
The Dagenham resident fought his way back to ring center with a nice left hook. Once there, Michell took the initiative behind a jab and a body combination before the fighters produced several exchanges in which very little landed. Burns got in a hard right to cap off a combination and soon was hammering Mitchell on the ropes before the round came to a close.
In the third stanza, Mitchell came out behind a few left hooks but switched to the jab when Burns began firing off his own hook. Mitchell ripped off a nice head to body sequence but was answered with a barrage from Burns.
Burns began thumping his chest, earning him a Mitchell left hook to the head. Mitchell scored with a left to the ribs but was then on the receiving end of another couple of rights before initiating a clinch.
Behind the jab, Burns started to put on pressure with Mitchell seeking to halt the tide with hooks. Mitchell ducked a few wild shots from Burns, who then got in a roundhouse right, putting Mitchell on the ropes.
Burns tried to better his work, scoring an uppercut and a left to the beltline. Mitchell pushed the champion off with a roar, beating his chest, daring Burns in for more.
The champion seemed wary as Mitchell came forward, missing a left hook before getting one in. Mitchell is then caught with a right uppercut and held on. Burns missed with a right before finding range with a hard one. Mitchell fought his way off the ropes as the round ended.
The fourth featured a now crafty Mitchell looking for a way inside as Burns kept distance with the jab. Burns sprang forward, landing a left hook but Mitchell dodged the rest of the champion's efforts. Mitchell began jabbing before coming forth with his own effort; a blocked right, left to the body, left uppercut sequence.
Burns landed a clubbing right before a firefight broke out with Burns getting in an right uppercut, left hook, right hand combination. Mitchell began a retreat as Burns continued to dish out punishment with both hands.
The action slowed down in the center of the ring as Mitchell dodged a few efforts from the champion. Burns kept patiently looking for openings and was rewarded by two scoring rights as Mitchell began to stumble a bit, finally showing the effects of the Scotsman's accuracy.
Mitchell then ducked a right but pulled back up exactly into the path of a perfect left hook, which caught the challenger right on the chin and down went Mitchell.
Beating the count, Mitchell was back up on his feet, gloves high but Burns went in for the kill, lashing Mitchell with clubbing rights and another knockdown occured.
Mitchell was up quicker this time, trying to throw punches back but received far more than he gave out. Burns took a quick breather before handing Mitchell a clattering on the ropes, prompting referee Terry O'Connor to put an end to matter with exactly one second remaining in the fourth frame.
Burns is successful in his first defense of the WBO lightweight belt, improving to 35-2 (10), while Mitchell drops to 33-2 (24), losing his first world title opportunity.
On the undercard, former IBF featherweight champion Scott Harrison, 27-2-2 (15), won the second consecutive bout of his comeback, outpointing Joe Elfidh, 7-2 (0), by a score of 60-53 after six rounds at lightweight.
Showing no ring rust after nearly seven years out of the ring, 35 year old Glasgow area resident Harrison wasted no time in putting the punishment to 32 year old Elfidh, who is three bouts into his own comeback after a nearly three year hiatus, knocking down the Harworth man in the first round.
Elfidh regrouped, seeing out the round and the rest of the fight but lost a wide decision to the far more seasoned ex-world champ.