Kevin Mitchell returned to his brilliant best with a superb performance to stop John Murray in their eagerly-awaited lightweight showdown in Liverpool on Saturday night. The Londoner outboxed his unbeaten Manchester rival and battered him to defeat in round eight of a gripping fight at the Liverpool Echo Arena.
Mitchell had been out of the ring for 14 months since suffering his first pro defeat at the hands of Aussie warrior Michael Katsidis at Upton Park. Since then he'd admitted to having personal problems, but all those were forgotten here as he upset the odds to improve his record to 32-1.
For Murray (31-1) meanwhile any talk of a world title will end at least for now, as he was comprehensively handed a first professional defeat. There was action from the first bell as Mitchell carried the fight to Murray and landed right hands from the off to both head and body. Murray is the more natural pressure fighter, though, and landed rights of his own but ended the round bleeding from the nose.
"I was a long time out and people said 'don't go back in with John Murray'," Mitchell told Sky Sports 1 HD afterwards. "But I knew for a long time that I wanted to fight.
"I wasn't here to mess about. I messed about in the last fight, and that was down to me. But this time there was no messing around. I'm back and I'm flying.
"It was a great British classic. John is a true champion - what a strong guy. He could have taken a world title fight but he wanted to take me on. I've got a lot of love for John for doing that."
"He boxed under orders again, this time with his body in shape," Mitchell's trainer Jimmy Tibbs added. "He did a proper job - I'm so proud of him.