Ricky Burns and Kevin Mitchell have finally finalized a bout, as the two will meet on September 22 in Glasgow, with Burns defending his WBO lightweight title.
Said Burns, "The fight's been on the boil for the last couple of years and the fans and press have been desperate for it to happen. It's fantastic that it's on at last. We are both at the top of our game now and I'm in this sport to prove that I'm the best. Next to me, Mitchell's the best around and it will be great fight between two warriors."
... "I'm promising you now you're going to see the best fight of the year or any year," Mitchell said. "This is a real fight between the two best in the division and it's not going to be for the faint-hearted. I rate Burns very highly. He's a great fighter and has really proved himself as one of the top champions in the world. I'm going into the lion's den and I know I can beat him and take the world title."
That's the kind of talk I like to see before a good fight: Two guys saying that this is a good fight. And it is. This is probably the best fight that could have been easily ("easily") made in the lightweight division right now.
Burns (34-2, 9 KO) has emerged over the past couple of years as a world class fighter, winning world titles at 130 and 135, beating the likes of Roman Martinez, Michael Katsidis, and most recently, Paulus Moses. Despite a low KO percentage and a deserved reputation as a "crafty" boxer, Burns isn't dull to watch, particularly when matched against guys who bring the fight to him. He's become one of the sport's smartest fighters, and exhibits great ring IQ and awareness. Against Martinez and Katsidis, his best wins, he was able to simply outbox harder hitters, and slash his way to victory.
Mitchell (33-1, 24 KO) suffered a devastating defeat to Katsidis back in May 2010, as he was totally overpowered by the Aussie brawler in three rounds. Following that, he missed 14 months in the ring and had some legal problems, after which he returned and took the "0" from the rugged John Murray in July 2011. Mitchell tuned up a bit with an easy win over Felix Lora in February.
I think this is a 50-50 fight if Mitchell is in shape and good to go. Burns isn't Murray, but neither is Mitchell a Katsidis or Martinez. Mitchell won't be so easily outboxed by Burns, and has more than one gear. That said, Burns has really been looking great, and he deserves to be the favorite here. It's just a good damn fight that I'm very much looking forward to, I'll leave it at that.