Boxing: World title this time, vows Kevin Mitchell
Kevin Mitchell has vowed to deliver on his third attempt at winning a world title as he prepares to get “nasty” against WBC lightweight champion Jorge Linares at the O2 Arena tonight.
The two defeats of Mitchell’s colourful 41-fight career have been inflicted by Michael Katsidis and Ricky Burns when the 30-year-old from Dagenham was challenging for the WBO belt.
Having been flattened by Katsidis in 2010 and Burns two years later, Mitchell has rebuilt by stringing together six successive victories to set up his showdown with Venezuelan puncher Linares.
“Jorge is a three-weight world champion and is a great fighter, but I fancy this and I know I’ll beat him. I’ll promise I’ll be world champion this time around,” said Mitchell.
“It’s going to be nasty and it’s going to be gritty, but that’s what I’m best at. All my West Ham fans will be there.”
Mitchell’s collision with Linares is one of three world title fights being staged, with Kell Brook’s second defence of his IBF welterweight belt against Frankie Gavin topping Eddie Hearn’s ‘Rule Britannia’ bill.
Lee Selby, dubbed the “Welsh Floyd Mayweather” challenges for Evgeny Gradovich’s IBF featherweight strap, while Anthony Joshua faces a step up in class against the wily Kevin Johnson.
Joshua has made explosive progress as a professional, blasting out all 12 previous opponents inside three rounds, but will encounter stiffer resistance against Johnson.
The American has never been knocked out and lasted the distance in his 2009 world title challenge against Vitali Klitschko. He also went 12 rounds with Dereck Chisora and Tyson Fury, offering Joshua the chance to gauge his progress against his British rivals.
“I’ve been ready for two weeks. Let me tell you this – I’ve been a pro since 2003, this is the best shape and condition I’ve ever been in during my whole career,” Johnson said.
“For the last two years I didn’t even train and I didn’t even care. The days of hurting my career are over. I blew it by not training and just turning up, but not for this, not for this right here!”
Brook knows more illustrious opponents await at welterweight if he dispatches Gavin, but fears the consequences of looking beyond Saturday night.
“There are some massive names out there for me. You can mention anyone in this red-hot division,” Brook said.
“In history too many people haven’t performed because they’re looking past opponents and they end up losing. I’ve seen it before.
“But I have a great team around me and I have tunnel vision. Frankie will be a tough challenge.”