By Cliff Rold
A hotly anticipated all U.K. Lightweight showdown turned into a showcase for a fighter clearly at his stride. In front of a red-hot home team crowd in Glasgow, Scotland, 29-year old Ricky Burns (35-2, 10 KO) of Coatbridge, Scotland, scored a pounding of 27-year old Kevin Mitchell (33-2, 24 KO) of Dagenham, Essex, at the Scottish Exhibition Center on Saturday at 2:59 of the fourth round.
Burns successfully defended the WBO belt for the second time since receiving full title recognition following an interim title win over Michael Katsidis in November 2011. It was the third knockout in seven title fights for Burns dating to his reign a WBO titlist at Jr. Lightweight from 2010-11. It was the 20th win in a row for Burn overall, both of his defeats coming by decision in 2006 and 07.
Mitchell has now been stopped in both of his defeats, knocked out in three previously by Katsidis. Burns had rebounded from the Katsidis loss with two victories and goes back to the drawing board.
Both men weighed in for the contest at the division limit of 135 lbs. The referee was Terry O’Connor.
At the opening bell, it was Burns pressing and making the action right away. Moving his hands, he landed a nice right on Mitchell in the corner and continued to come forward. Mitchell warmed to the task, finding his jab, and the action picked up in the final minute on both sides. An exchange of right hands gave moth men respect for one another.
Both men landed sharp shots in the second, Mitchell getting most of his work done early. As the clocked ticked by, it was Burns trapping him on the ropes and a rocking right hand at ring center that made clear the winner of the round.
A spirited exchange brought a rush to the crowd shortly into the third, Burns biting down to brawl with he bigger puncher. It didn’t take long for the Scotsman to take control again, throwing and landing more to maintain control.
Loading up from jump, Burns came out with a finish in mind in round four. Missing wildly in spots, Burns was willing to sacrifice defense to land big rights hands and some nasty, winging shots to the body. Drilling Mitchell with right hands down the pipe, Burns was setting up doom.
A blasting left hook deposited Mitchell on the floor and Mitchell was in big trouble. He beat the count but there was ample time left in the round. Burns resumed his attack, Mitchell trying to hold and cover to no avail. A pair of right hands slung over the Mitchell guard landed high on the head and Mitchell was down for the second time.
Again, Mitchell rose. His legs shot but his heart willing, Mitchell fought back as Burns trapped him on the ropes. He couldn’t fight back long enough. Burns right hand was landing too often, too violently, and the referee called a halt to the bout with one second to go in the round.
Burns and Mitchell gave comments after the fight together, each man draping an arm over the other’s shoulder. Their short, explosive fight engendered the sort of mutual respect only fighters can truly understand. They declared they’d be sitting down to share a beer.
Looking to the future, Burns stated he wants a chance to fight for the Ring Magazine belt and hopes to pursue unification in his division. Based on recent form, he’d mix well with the likes of IBF titlist Miguel Vazquez (31-3, 13 KO) or WBC titlist Antonio DeMarco (27-2-1, 20 KO).
Of most intrigue, if he can get past an expected November clash with DeMarco, would be former Jr. Lightweight titlist Adrien Broner (24-0, 20 KO). A fight between the two was discussed when both held titles at 130 lbs. but didn’t come to fruition. It appears to have matured and should be a must for serious fight fans.
The card was promoted by Frank Warren Promotions.
Cliff Rold is a Managing Editor at BoxingScene, and a member of the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]m