Kevin Mitchell has made some mistakes in his career. He's had well-publicized issues with the law outside of the ring, and he admits now that when he fought Michael Katsidis back in 2010, he wasn't as ready as he led fans and media to believe.
But now, he says, he's truly ready to capitalize on the big opportunity ahead of him when he faces Ricky Burns for the WBO lightweight title in Glasgow, Scotland, live on BoxNation:
"I’m in tremendous shape and I’ve never been like this before. It’s basically down to my age and getting older. For my last big one at Upton Park (Katsidis), I told everyone I was flying when I was really hiding everything. It was immaturity in a young man.
"But you learn from mistakes in life, especially when they happen in front of 24,000 people and everyone sees you embarrass yourself. That will never happen again. It’s been a long road back, and I’ve learned the hard way."
Mitchell (33-1, 24 KO) went through some fire to find himself back here. Following the crushing, three-round loss to Katsidis in front of his home fans, Mitchell spiraled and didn't find himself back in the ring until July 2011, fourteen months after the Katsidis bout.
And he didn't come back easy, either, facing then-unbeaten, heavy-handed brawler John Murray, a relentless pressure fighter who had already bulldozed his way to British and European titles, and was considered the favorite in the fight, in no small part because Mitchell had mostly operated as a super featherweight, and had appeared so much smaller than Katsidis in their lightweight fight.
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But Mitchell rose from the ashes with the finest performance of his career, stunning critics and skeptics with a fantastic display, stopping the rugged Murray in eight rounds. And that was over four months before Brandon Rios wore down Murray at Madison Square Garden, for the record.
Now 27, Mitchell has unfortunately fought just once since the win over Murray, an easy tune-up in February of this year against determined but overmatched Felix Lora.
The same questions are still going to haunt Mitchell, at least a little bit, and I think he understands that. If he beats Ricky Burns, then perhaps the ghosts will be silenced for good, but right now, it's again been over a year since he faced a tough opponent, and though he win in terrific fashion, it's up for debate if he's really, truly ready for someone on as good a roll as Ricky Burns (34-2, 9 KO) has been over the last two years.
For American casual fans, this might not be a marquee fight. But for those who follow the global scene a little closer, they can tell you that you don't have to be from the UK to take this one seriously, and keep an eye on it this Saturday. Bad Left Hook will have live round-by-round coverage of Burns vs Mitchell this Saturday afternoon, beginning at 2 pm EDT.