By Jake Donovan
Kevin Mitchell picked up his third straight win, battering late sub Karim El Ouazghari (15-4-2) en route to a 9th round stoppage Saturday evening at the ExCel Arena in London, England.
Mitchell (36-2, 26KO) was in control for the entire fight, landing virtually at will on El Ouazghari's leaky defense, before the bout was stopped at 2:07 of round nine.
A competitive fight was never expected to be in the cards, but both sides did their part to at least provide entertainment. Mitchell repeatedly landed scored with straight punches up the middle, as El Ouazghari employed a horrible version of peek-a-boo defense.
The one bright spot for the visiting Spaniard came in round four, when he rocked Mitchell with an overhand right. The moment was short-lived; Mitchell responded seconds later with right hand shots over his own.
Things never got better for El Ouazghari, who bravely took his opponent's best before the fight was no longer competitive. A stoppage reasonably could have come at any point from round seven onward. Instead, Mitchell was given a chance to showcase his talent that much longer before forcing an end to the night midway through the ninth round.
Mitchell improves to 36-2 (26KO) with the win, his third straight since a 4th round knockout loss to lightweight titlist Ricky Burns last September. All three wins have come in the span of the past five months as he builds towards a 2014 campaign he hopes will lead to another title shot.
El Ouazghari, who accepted the fight on very short notice, falls to 15-4-2 (4KO) in dropping his second straight.
The bout, along with most of the undercard, aired live on Sky Sports.
Middleweight contender Martin Murray (26-1-1, 11KOs) started slow and struggled against Sergey Khomitsky (29-9-2, 11KOs) to win an eight round decision. The sole score was 77-75. Murray appeared to lack energy, activity and zip in his punches.
Former IBF super bantamweight champion Jamie McDonnell (23-2-1, 10 KOs) got stung twice, but managed to overcome a very game Abigail Medina (9-3-2, 5 KOs) with an eight round decision. The sole score was 78-75.
2102 Olympic bronze medal winner Anthony Ogogo (4-0, 2 KOs) won a six round unanimous decision over veteran journeyman Dan Blackwell (5-26, 1 KO). The sole score was 60-53.
In a stay busy fight, super middleweight contender Paul Smith (34-3, 19KOs) won a six round unanimous decision over Jamie Ambler (10-53-2). The sole score was 60-54.
Lightweight Ryan Taylor (8-3-1, 3KOs) was unable to overcome Floyd Moore (10-3-1), who scored a fourth round stoppage to capture the vacant Southern Area championship.
Rising bantamweight prospect Kal Yafai (10-0, 7KOs) stoppped Ashley Lane (4-4-2, 1KO) in the fourth round of action.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board, Yahoo Boxing Ratings Panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox