By Ian S Palmer
Ricky Burns, the WBO Champion, will be taking on Kevin Mitchell on Sat. Sept. 22 to see who the best lightweight boxer in Britain is. Burns will have the hometown support of the fans in Glasgow Scotland, while Mitchell of Dagenham, Essex tries to take away his title. Burns will enter the ring with a record of 34-2 with 9 KOs, with Mitchell carrying a record of 33-1 with 24 KOs.
The 29-year-old Burns has looked good recently, especially with his unanimous decision win over Michael Katsidis, who has been the only man to beat Mitchell so far. Mitchell was knocked out in the third round against Katsidis back in 2010. Mitchell has also fought another fighter who is famous by association as he beat Breidis Prescott in 2009. Prescott made a name for himself by knocking out Amir Khan in the first round of their bout a year earlier. Mitchell has also defeated John Murray, another of Britain’s top lightweights, as well as Felix Lora.
The 27-year-old Mitchell’s only fought twice since losing to Katsidis of Australia 26 months ago, but he enters the fight with Burns with a pretty good knockout ratio with 24 of them in 33 wins. Burns on the other hand, has just nine KOs in 34 wins. However, Burns may have a bit more power than his record would indicate. He’s a smart boxer with good basic skills and is pretty big for a lightweight at 5-foot-10 and a 71-inch reach while Mitchell’s just 5-foot-8 with a 68-inch reach.
The problem for Burns may be that he doesn’t have enough power to discourage Mitchell, who doesn’t exactly have a granite chin. Mitchell’s a good boxer, but needs to stay away from toe-to-toe activity since he may not last too long. Mitchell will need to move in and out while trying to load up on points. Burns doesn’t always handle pressure too well and this means Mitchell should take the attack to him and throw in volume.
Burns is taller and has a longer reach though and should try to keep his challenger at bay by throwing his jab and quick combination. He’s got a good work rate and that should make it an exciting bout. He also needs to go to the body to be effective. Mitchell may prefer to fight on the inside if he feels he can take Burns’ best power shots.
As far as experience goes, Burns turned pro back in 2001 and even though he’s a world champion and also a former WBO Super Featherweight titleholder, hasn’t really fought any top class fighters other than former champion Katsidis. His last fight was in March against Paulus Moses and he won a 12-round unanimous decision. Mitchell turned pro in 2003 and has fought the slightly better opposition but remember that Katsidis destroyed him within three rounds
This is a close call like many fights are, but Burns seems to have everything together at the moment and should keep his belt by decision.