Following the recent announcement that Gavin Rees and Derry Matthews are scheduled for a British and European lightweight unification rematch at the Motorpoint Arena in Sheffield, we are served up potentially another exciting match up between West Ham’s Kevin Mitchell, former British Super-Featherweight champion and current WBO Intercontential Lightweight champion against Coatsbridge’s two weight world champion and former Commonwealth Super-Featherweight champion, Ricky Burns.
At stake is the WBO’s “full” Lightweight title on the 14th July at London's Upton Park, the home of West Ham United Football Club the team which local man Mitchell supports.
This exciting match up will appear on the bill of the grudge match between David Haye and Dereck Chisora, alongside Alexander Povektin’s defence of his WBA “full” title against former undisputed Heavyweight Champion of the World Hasim Rahman.
There has always been talk that both Mitchell and Burns, who are both guided by top British promoter Frank Warren, would face each earlier on the British scene when they were both at Super-Featherweight, but for one reason or another that never occurred, however it is finally occurring with Burns as champion and Mitchell, the hometown star looking to dethrone the Scotsman and stake his claim as the best 9stone 9lbs here in Great Britain.
And, as a result of this, both men are pushing for further glory in a Lightweight division that has suddenly burst wide open, following the decision of former WBO champion Juan Manuel Marquez to fight as a Welterweight as he looks to write the final chapter in his glittering career that will see him enter the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
Also with Brandon Rios’ forced decision to go up the weights as well having twice failed to make the classic 9stone 9lbs weight against first John Murray, who Mitchell would stop in eight rounds at the Echo Arena in a fight that was one of the chief supports for Ricky Burns' last title fight at Super-Featherweight against Dagenham’s Nicky Cook, and then in Rios’ last fight, a controversial points decision win over Cuban Richard Abril for the WBA’s version of the Lightweight crown.
In terms of experience and physical equipment, Burns possesses a two-inch height advantage, standing at 5ft10 in comparison to Mitchell’s 5ft 8, which makes Burns a big Lightweight and he was an even bigger Super-Featherweight.
It was his size that often saw Burns have struggles to make the 9stone 4lbs Super-Featherweight limit, which saw him tired and drained, but since the step up to the Lightweight division, he has also has a two inch reach advantage but considerably less knockout power having only stopped 9 out of his 34 opponents while Mitchell stopped 24 out of 33.
However, all but two of Mitchell’s knockout wins have been down at Super-Featherweight, so it remains to be seen as to whether or not Mitchell has been successful in bringing his power up a division.
In terms of their common opponents, both men have fought Michael Katsidis the tough Australian brawler with differing success. Mitchell was stopped in three rounds by the Australian for the WBO’s interim belt at Lightweight after letting himself getting dragged into a brawl with Katsidis, while the taller Burns choose to box and move effectively against Katsidis, keeping him at the end of his jab to pick a wide points victory on the judges scorecards in his Lightweight debut.
On a domestic level, both have faced Leeds’ hard hitting Carl Johannesen at British title level. Burns lost a wide points decision in 2007 in front of Johannsen’s fans. Mitchell would stop Johannsen three fights later in March 2008 at the O2 Arena in London to unify the British and Commonwealth titles in the chief support of Haye’s World Cruiserweight unification match against Welshman Enzo Maccarinelli.
Come fight night in a cauldron atmosphere at Upton Park in front of crowd that could be as high as 40,000, Burns, with the disadvantage of being the away fighter, will need to start quickly to silence Mitchell’s large army of fans, who will be turning out en mass.
Burns can do this by establishing his jab and using his superior footwork and boxing ability to keep Mitchell at bay who will be looking to show his power and that he can be a force on the World stage .
It will be an exciting back and forth fight with Mitchell scoring some success, however it will be Burn’s superior boxing brain that should guide him to victory and to bigger riches in a Lightweight division that is beginning to open on the world stage.
Iain Langmaid can be contacted on
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