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Burns, Mitchell Cast Friendship Aside, Promise a War

Kevin Mitchell and Ricky Burns will cast their friendship aside when they meet for the WBO world lightweight title on September 22.

Burns will make the second defence of his crown at the SECC in Glasgow in one of the most eagerly-awaited domestic showdowns of recent times.

The Scot was outstanding in his clinical victory over Michael Katsidis - a fighter who flattened Mitchell inside three rounds - but the challenger has since revived his career with a thrilling win against John Murray.

The respect between the British rivals is genuine and has developed into a friendship that Mitchell insists will be a distant memory once hostilities commence.

"You can't beat Ricky's personality, he's a lovely man and a mate of mine," the 27-year-old from Dagenham said.

"That doesn't make it harder when you're in the ring, but it makes it harder when you're promoting the fright.

"We genuinely get on well and there won't be any trash talking. But once we get in the ring we fight, that's our job.

"I've wanted this fight for a long time now and Ricky has given me the chance.

"I'm determined to win it, but I know I'm in for a hard night's work.

"He's a great fighter but people have a habit of overlooking him. They think he's good, but he isn't great.

"He was beaten earlier in his career but that can happen to anyone. He's really come on so much since then."

Burns, who will continue his part-time job at a local sports shop in Coatbridge during training, is equally ruthless.

"Come fight night once we step into the ring the friendship is over, this is business time," Burns said.

When the pair sparred in London last year, Burns came out on top, but Mitchell insists his dominance was due to their contrasting conditioning.

"I wasn't fit when we sparred, he was and got the better of me. He was too fit and strong at the time," he said.

"I was overweight, not strong overweight but fat. I was blowing hard after three rounds.

"I did four rounds with him on the first day and five on the next. He was doing 12 rounders as if they were nothing."

Mitchell was closing in on a world title fight until his career teetered on the brink of ruin in the aftermath of his loss to Katsidis in 2010.

Revelations of drinking and personal problems during a troubled training camp threatened to prevent him from fulfilling his promise, but Mitchell now lives a cleaner life.

"Of course I'm in the right frame of mind, I wouldn't have been begging for this fight for the last eight months if I wasn't," he said.

"Since the Katsidis fight I've never looked back. Everything is perfect now.

"I can't get up for the normal fights, I want the big names and the big names only. They're the ones that deliver the big money.

"I want the names like Brandon Rios. Ricky Burns generates more money than any other fight in this country so that's why I'm fighting him. After this fight we'll go on from there."

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