The atmosphere in Glasgow was electric, the crowd thunderous, and the moment just right. Frank Warren paid for Michael Buffer, even, to make Ricky Burns vs Kevin Mitchell the "big event" he wanted it to be -- and that the excited paying audience deserved it to be.
[ Results: Frampton TKO-6 Molitor ]
But after a good first round from Mitchell, where he seemed to find some rhythm in the latter half of the three minutes, it was all Ricky Burns, as he delighted the Scottish boxing faithful and stopped Mitchell in the fourth round.
Burns (35-2, 10 KO) wasn't expected to win by TKO, but he did just that and looked physically huge next to Mitchell, a small lightweight and seemingly dwarfed by Burns, who recognized the size disparity and took advantage of it, pushing Mitchell (33-2, 24 KO) around at moments, bulling him to the ropes, and abandoning his normal game plan to dare Mitchell, expected to be the fight's puncher, to trade with him.
There were a few moments of throwdown brawling between the two in each of the rounds, but it was the fourth where Mitchell was forced to fold. Burn knocked him down once a hard left hook, and Mitchell came back on unsteady legs, quickly dropped again, with referee Terry O'Connor taking a closer look this time.
Once back to action, Burns again stormed in to close the show. 20 seconds remained when he got started, and though Mitchell tried to hang on, he just couldn't make it. With his back on the ropes and right hands flying in, Mitchell found himself fully in the hands of the referee -- and O'Connor chose to stop the bout, with Mitchell not offering much by way of complaint.
He was just too much, and yet again, Ricky Burns has proven his quality. Still the WBO titleholder, Burns has a fine argument on resume to be considered the world's best lightweight at the moment, right alongside Miguel Vazquez and Antonio DeMarco.
For Mitchell, it's another rough setback, somewhat reminiscent of his 2010 letdown against Michael Katsidis, when Katsidis polished him off in three rounds. I don't have any real doubt that Mitchell has the ability to get back to this level and get another shot, but he'll need to just sit down, refocus, and come back.
For Burns, it's a big statement win. He remains on his roll, and this was a truly strong performance from him once again. He's always going to be doubted, even by those who know his quality. He never seems impressive until the bell rings and you watch him work.