By Alexey Sukachev
Echo Arena, Liverpool - In a very grueling lightweight battle, Kevin Mitchell (32-1, 24KOs) returned for the first time since last year's shocking knockout to Michael Katsidis, and stopped previously undefeated John Murray (31-1, 18KOs) in eight rounds. Mitchell slowly broke him down in a very even fight. In the eight round, a fading Murray walked into an inside hook which caught him right on the chin and it almost put him down face first. He beat the count and then Mitchell attacked with a barrage of punches to force the stoppage as the referee stepped in to wave it off.
Ranked #3 by the WBO, #6 by the WBC and #10 by the IBF, Murray was coming into this fight as a favorite. However, Mitchell, 26, started to tag Murray, also 26, from the very beginning with his nice uppercuts. Murray, as always was rushing in, but Mitchell's punches did the damage. In the second round, Murray landed several hard right hands, and Kevin had little to give back, losing the stanza clearly.
In round three, Murray tried to continue with the infighting but Mitchell just didn;t give him this chance by constantly moving around and landing well-placed counters and uppercuts in series. The fourth stanza was also in his favor, and it was a major letdown for the favorite. However, in the fifth John Murray once again found his mark, delivering hard, wicked blows in the corner. At the end of the round both fighters were damaged. Murray was suffering from a badly cut upper lip, while Murray's right eye was rapidly closing. The Murray's success in the last period proved to be his last success overall. In the sixth, Mitchell continued to circle his opponent and landed more and more powerful shots to get a gap - 58-56 - on BoxingScene's unofficial scorecard.
Finally, in the seventh Mitchell started to land his uppercuts at will. He wobbled Murray badly at the end by one of them but the unbeaten fighter somehow managed to last till the end. It came soon though. Shortly after the break and after the bell to start round eight, Murray landed a couple of good blows but then he was countered with a smashing left hook by Mitchell and landed on his knees. He bravely got up but was almost immediately finished off by another fierce assault by Kevin Mitchell, prompting referee Richie Davis to step in and halt the contest. Kevin Mitchell had his career back on track and a vacant WBO I/C lightweight title with it.