By John Hargate
York Hall, Bethnal Green – Unheralded Felix Lora, 14-9-5 (8), came out of the traps like a man possessed against Kevin Mitchell in front of a noisy, capacity York Hall crowd in last Friday’s main event. Mitchell had acknowledged that Lora was likely to provide him with a test pre-fight but cannot have expected the Dominican, by way of Barcelona, to unceasingly throw haymaker after haymaker in a wild attempt to turn out The Dagenham Destroyer’s lights.
Mitchell managed to time Lora in the second and dropped him with a pinpoint left hook as he stormed in. Lora went down hard, but looked steady after beating the count. Mitchell, cautious and wary of the Dominican’s power, refused to rush in and finish the job and as a result let Lora off the hook.
Despite being under sustained pressure, Mitchell boxed tidily and cleverly and only in the fourth and the fifth did it look as though Lora’s incessant pressure was beginning to trouble him. Lora took both of those rounds on my card and it appeared that the flow of the fight was in the balance. Mitchell responded well, and as the pace dropped in the sixth, once again reasserted his control of proceedings. His jab was sharp and accurate and the left hook was a constant source of danger for Lora.
Referee Richie Davis scored the fight 98-92 in Mitchell’s favour, only a single point away from my own 98-91 card for the same man.
“I knew he’d be a tough kid,” Mitchell acknowledged post-fight. “You look at his record and he’s been beat, but he’s the sort of kid who can go out there against fighters like me and knock’em out if I was a bit of an idiot and wanted to have a little go with him.
“He hit like [Breidis] Prescott hit. He had that sort of power. He nailed me a couple of times but didn’t wobble me or nothing. But I wanted to look classy, which is what I did do. I had him down but he’s like a Nigel Benn type of fighter. When they’re hurt they dig in a little bit and they find that shot – I don’t want to be the idiot who walks onto that shot and then find out that I’m the one on the floor trying to get back up!”
I asked matchmaker Dean Powell how much he’d known about Lora before the fight. “I’ve seen him,” Dean explained. “I obviously knew who he is. You’ve only got to look at the people he’s beaten, the people he’s lost to see that he’s going to give [Kevin] a good workout - which he did do. It’s what he needed.”
I said I thought Lora had been more aggressive than might have been expected. “Yeah, but Kevin coped with it and he well won the fight,” Dean countered.
“You can’t win!” laughed Dean. “If he’d have come out and knocked Lora over, people would have been screaming saying it was an easy fight.” It certainly wasn’t that, and their styles made for an absorbing contest. How much an opponent like Lora will help Kevin in terms of preparing for a tall, stand up boxer like Burns remains to be seen. That’s a fight that looks a certainty for the summer, possibly at West Ham’s Upton Park.
Kevin, now 33-1 (24), offered his final thoughts on the Burns fight. “You can see my boxing ability in there tonight, so imagine me being in there with Burns. Don’t get me wrong, Burns can hit. You walk onto a stupid shot from Burns and he’ll knock you out, but that kid hits a lot harder than Burns. I had to be cautious in there. With the Burns fight I can let my shots off a little bit more. We’ll show you when the fight comes.”