September has been the month fight fans have been waiting for; so far we have seen a middleweight unification clash, the round of the year in much anticipated showdown between Chavez Jr and Martinez and all-out war between Maidana and Karass. Despite these great fight this weekend’s mouth watering battle of Britain between Ricky Burns and Kevin Mitchell, with the Scotsman’s WBO lightweight belt on the line, could eclipse them all.
The fight has been labeled as boxer vs. brawler by many but this tag doesn’t do either man justice. Burns is slick technician who uses his reach advantage to keep his opponents at bay which combined with a tight guard and good footwork makes him hard to beat; he may lack that decisive knockout blow but punches hard enough to keep you honest.
Mitchell on the other hand is devastating puncher with underrated boxing ability. Although he favours a toe-to-toe war the “Dagenham Destroyer” has show on a number of occasions he is capable of boxing well on the back foot, controlling the action with his jab before unleashing eye catching combinations on the inside.
Mitchell has been heralded as one of the most naturally gifted fighters the UK has produced in years. From the start of his pro career he had been ear marked as a future world champion and backed up the praise with a series of eye catching performances which earned him a shot at Michael Katsidis’s WBO interim lightweight strap in front of a home crowd at Upton Park. Unfortunately for Mitchell that was the night that his turbulent lifestyle out of the ring finally caught up with him as the Aussie stopped him in the 3rd round. As so often happens, the same people were using superlatives to describe him up until that point suddenly labelled him as another of boxing’s hype jobs. Mitchell sought redemption and found it against the then unbeaten John Murray. The Londoner was a massive underdog going in the fight yet finished off his opponent in the 8th round of a fight of the year candidate. That impressive performance appeared to have done enough to secure a showdown with Brandon Rios until legal issues prevented him from gaining a U.S visa. Now Mitchell has finally got his world title shot he will grab it with both hands.
Burns does not posses the natural gifts of his English counterpart yet through hard work and a clean lifestyle he has worked his way up from being deemed unworthy to spar with Scott Harrison to become a two-weight world champion with the likes of Roman “Rocky” Martinez, Paulus Moses and Mitchell’s conquerer Katsidis all on his resume. While no one aspect of his game is outstanding he has a well rounded skill set which when combined with the astute tacticts of trainer Billy Nelson make him a handful for anyone in the world.
Verdict: Burns will pip Mitchell in close unanimous decision