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John Murray-Kevin Mitchell: The Stage is Set For War

British rivals John Murray and Kevin Mitchell clash in Liverpool tonight with both men looking to move on to bigger and better things.

The pair have been on the brink of the boxing big time for a few years with Murray having ruled as British and European lightweight champion and Mitchell making an unsuccessful world title bid last year.

But both have the chance to press their claims at the Echo Arena tonight in a real crossroads fight. They meet in a north-versus-south clash between two exciting and ambitious fighters, with the nominal WBO Inter-Continental lightweight title on the line.

While Murray has been treading water waiting for his chance, Mitchell is on a rebuilding mission and secured the fight despite losing his last bout, an 'interim' world title challenge against Michael Katsidis last year.

Murray (31-0, 18KOs) said: "They have said the winner of this will get a world title fight, so I just see this as my coming-out party.

"Kevin is well known in British boxing and a good win over him will announce me to the general public.

"It is a great way to come out before a world title shot and it will be great if all the new fans I make with this fight will then come and watch me win a world title."

Both men have identified WBA champion Brandon Rios as their preferred route to world honours, despite the dangers posed by the Texan firebrand.

"Brandon Rios comes forward and is an aggressive slugger," Murray said.

"The way I fight, it will be a great fight if we get that on. I have to take care of business with Kevin first, get that out of the way, and then we will see what happens."

Mitchell, 26, is similarly eager to look at the bigger picture.

The popular East Ender (31-1, 23KO wins) said: "It is a stepping stone for bigger things, the bigger picture.

"I've won the intercontinental title at lightweight before and at super-featherweight. I was ranked number one in the world by the WBO. I got beat and obviously I'm not ranked so high anymore.

"I know fighting John Murray will be a stepping stone for me getting a world title fight, but ratings don't mean anything."

A strong card in Liverpool sees Scotland's Ricky Burns defend his WBO super-featherweight title against another Essex man, Nicky Cook, in what should be an entertaining fight.

Burns wants bigger fights in future and told Press Association Sport: "Nicky is in my way right now.

"There is talk about unification fights and everybody knows I'd love the chance to fight for the Ring Magazine belt. Nicky is in the way and if I can get by him, I will be pushing to get those fights."

On the undercard, former amateur star Frankie Gavin, a Birmingham City supporter, fights former Blues footballer Curtis Woodhouse.

Feisty Liverpudlian Tony Bellew faces dangerous Ovill McKenzie in a rematch with his Commonwealth belt and the vacant British light-heavyweight title on the line.

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