|The progression of the light welterweight division did not exactly stall during the protracted ring absence of Kostya Tszyu, but his re-emergence could prove to be an ominous sign, not only for his opponent Sharmba Mitchell, but also for the entire 140-pound class. The boxing world has endured Tszyu’s|
convalescence and greets him now as a king returning to assume his throne but the ease with which he can do so remains to be seen. A shadow of doubt festers in the minds of many who believe that Tszyu has returned, but only to abdicate his position, leaving a younger and hungrier generation to assert themselves upon the ground he once ruled. As Saturday night and the answering of many questions approaches, read on for the predictions of our esteemed staff writers here at saddoboxing.com, you might see something that will help you decide who will win this super-fight rematch.
Mitchell is the most difficult of the top light welters but I think Tszyu simply has it to stop him. The first fight between the two raised more questions than it answered due to Mitchell's knee injury but I think that this one will firmly establish Tszyu as the top light welter, after which he'll move up to welter to face Cory Spinks. Yes, it's been quite some time since Kostya last fought and that can go either good or bad for the inactive fighter. I think that even after age and inactivity have taken their toll (although Sharmba is slightly less than a year younger than Kostya) Tszyu still has the skills to do Mitchell. I see Mitchell out boxing the Russian-Aussie for the first few rounds before Kostya starts to get closer and gets Sharmba going backwards consistently. Big right hands will find the American late in the fight. Tszyu KO9.
By all accounts, Tszyu has been training the house down, and he will need to be incredibly sharp to overcome nearly two years out of the ring. Mitchell has been busy, but in the three years since the first Tszyu fight, he has not faced one world-class fighter, and I feel that this will hurt him. I've always had my doubts about Sharmbas ability at the highest level. There is a certain fragility about Mitchell. And you need fragility like a hole in the head when you've got Kostya Tszyu standing in front of you. I've always said that Tszyu has one more great fight left in him. We didn't get the chance to see it in
2001 against Judah, because Zab capitulated too soon. November 6 you'll see just how good this man is. Tszyu by KO in 5.
I think Mitchell has an excellent chance of pulling off a win.
He has been the more active fighter by far and I feel that his boxing skills can frustrate Tszyu and win a decision. He put on a boxing clinic against Mike Stewart and is showing some decent form. I predict a close but unanimous decision.
Kostya Tszyu and Sharmba Mitchell - What’s the best bet?
This Saturday sees the return bout between two evenly matched fighters to determine Who’s The Boss at 140-pounds (for now). Tszyu recently turned thirty-five, an advanced age for a light welterweight, and has been a professional fighter since 1992. Having been an outstanding amateur he started mixing it up with decent opposition from the get go. Only one of Kostya’s opponent’s (his second bout) have had a losing record, a remarkable achievement. Just four months after turning pro, in his fourth bout, he beat Juan LaPorte, an ex-champ who had lost a close decision to Azumah Nelson only three fights previously.
After only thirteen fights, Kostya challenged Jake Rodriguez for the IBF title, winning by sixth round KO. After two years and five defenses, Tszyu was being mentioned as a De La Hoya opponent before being derailed, in the upset of the year, by Vince Phillips. Kostya regrouped and came back better than before and, after regaining the title the following year, has cleaned up the light welter division stopping Gonzalez, Chavez, Mitchell and Judah, some of the best fighters to grace 140-pounds in recent years.
Mitchell turned pro shortly after his 18th birthday and won thirty-one on the trot before losing by KO to Leavander Johnson and Stevie Johnston within three months in 1994. After eleven wins against so-so opposition, Sharmba finally won WBA title against Khalid Rahilou in Paris in 1998. After losing by seventh round TKO to Tszyu in 2001, Sharmba has come back to win eight fights and the IBF “Interim’ title. Their first fight was considered a pick “em match up, with Mitchell holding the better boxing skills (although Tszyu is under-rated in this area) and Kostya boasting the better punching power (although Sharmba can pop when he feels like it). Unfortunately for Mitchell, a knee injury prior to the fight restricted his movement and that, along with Tszyu’s roughhouse tactics contributed to a seventh round loss.
Since beating Mitchell, Kostya has only fought four times, unifying the titles and making the previously undefeated Zab Judah go “dance crazy’ during a second round KO. His last fight was against “Jesse’ James Leija in January 2003, in which Tszyu overcame a slow start to win by sixth round TKO when JJL retired with a broken eardrum. In that same period, Mitchell has fought forty-two rounds, including dominant wins against Ben Tackie, Lovemore N’Dou and Michael Stewart. The big question for this fight is whether Kostya’s enforced lay-off (due to various injuries) will adversely affect his performance, or has the rest helped his elderly (in boxing terms) body recuperate for a vintage “Thunder from Down Under’ performance.
Will Mitchell, no spring chicken at thirty-four, benefit from his active career (fifty-five fights) or is he at the end of the road?
Tito Trinidad recently showed that you can come back after a two-year layoff to perform as good as ever, but that’s a different fighter against a different opponent in different circumstances. I have to admit that I am finding it difficult finding a winner for this fight. My most likely scenarios are a late stoppage win, or points victory, for Sharmba Mitchell or a late stoppage for Tszyu. Odd’s makers have this fight very even in terms of a points win but you can get an excellent bet on a Sharmba KO win. I am therefore choosing Mitchell to win in either the tenth, eleventh or twelfth rounds at odd’s of 40/1 or 50/1, with a weary Kostya succumbing to an accurate Mitchell barrage after being competitive for the first six rounds.
Saturday's gonna be a tough one to call for sure. Sharmba Mitchell has so much to gain while Kostya Tszyu, naturally, has everything to lose. Where Mitchell's strength lies is how busy he's been. Since his loss to Tszyu, he's fought eight times against opponents with a combined record of 239-45-14, five of them (records combined for 157-18-6) since Tszyu last fought Jesse James Leija back in January of 2003. Mitchell hasn't looked better. He's sharper and stronger and although he struggled against the super-tough Lovemore N'dou in April, he's still very capable of being the distance guy (twenty-five of his fifty-five wins meeting the final bell.). Tszyu, however, has been in the gym, keeping himself in decent shape although not at fighting weight throughout. This doesn't mean that Tszyu's coming in any stronger or that Mitchell should worry any more or less. With these variables in mind, I'm still going with a close decision win for the undisputed (Yes, Tszyu's still undisputed until he gets beaten.) junior welterweight champion. He'll still connect butMitchell's busy, disciplined schedule will prove as the IBF "interim" titlist's strength. A shootout fueled with grudge and emotion, for certain, but I'm still going with Kostya.
Kostya Tszyu W12 Mitchell.
Kostya Tszyu is one of those special fighters, that can comeback from a long layoff, and still be at the top of their game. I know it is widely speculated that Tszyu is having trouble making the weight; but this is a fight where providing Tszyu shows up in good shape, he should have far too much for Mitchell.
Underappreciated defensive skills and a superb boxing mind off set Mitchell's advantages in speed and boxing skills. Tszyu will try to slowly wear down Mitchell, but Mitchell's pride to keep him on his feet for the full twelve rounds.
Kostya Tszyu WUD12.
Our staff writers will provide their exclusive predictions on all of the big fights.
Jim Cawkwell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org