A July fight between WBO lightweight titlist Ricky Burns and Kevin Mitchell appears headed to the grounds of West Ham FC in Upton Park, London, Terence Dooley reports at BoxingScene.com, and an official announcement from Frank Warren Promotions is expected on Tuesday, May 8.
Burns (34-2, 9 KO) was originally supposed to fight on July 1, but that has been called off. Kevin Mitchell says his next fight is set for July. The fight has been negotiated and considered close for a while now, as there is strong demand to see the two top UK lightweights face off for the major title, but Mitchell was said to be demanding far too much money for the bout.
That appears to have changed, and now the fight is thought to be on, which will be one of the biggest fights in the UK this year, and one of the biggest and most important lightweight fights in the world this year.
Burns has gone on a tear to win titles at both 130 and 135 in the last couple of years, starting with an upset of Roman Martinez in September 2010 to win the WBO super featherweight title. He followed that with a series of weak defenses against Andreas Evensen, Joseph Laryea, and a barely-mobile Nicky Cook who had no business in the ring, then moved up to 135 pounds, leading many to think he ducked a set date in the States against Adrien Broner.
Burns won the interim WBO lightweight title against Michael Katsidis in November of last year, and this year routed Paulus Moses and claimed the full title, which had previously been held by Juan Manuel Marquez.
Mitchell (33-1, 24 KO) was brutally thwarted in his first step onto the world stage in May 2010, stopped in just three rounds by Katsidis. The 27-year-old Dagenham fighter was then out of the sport for a while, having issues in his private life that included admissions of drinking too much, and eventually was arrested along with his mother in April 2011 on charges of cocaine possession and "running a cannabis farm."
Three months after his arrest, Mitchell stepped back into the ring to face hard-charging John Murray, who was undefeated and favored heavily by most. But it was a class performance from Mitchell in one of the best fights of 2011, as he stood strong with Murray, and was able to outbox him and beat him up en route to an exciting, eighth round stoppage.
Since then Mitchell has fought just once, on February 10 of this year, in what was a shameful mismatch turned glorified sparring session with Dominican brawler Felix Lora.
Burns vs Mitchell is one of the best fights that can be made at the weight today, with a happy coincidence that it should draw significant interest as a Scotland vs England battle in the UK. Cross your fingers that this doesn't turn into a letdown announcement of a doubleheader leading to a potential fight between the two later. The time is right, and it's a world-class fight that can and should be made now.