Jorge Linares retained his WBC lightweight title today in London, coming off the canvas to stop Kevin Mitchell in the 10th round of a chess match fight that grew increasingly violent as it went on, ending with a battered and bloodied Mitchell dropped to the canvas at the end of a huge flurry, where referee Victor Loughlin stopped the bout.
Linares (39-3, 26 KO) started tentatively, as did Mitchell (39-3, 29 KO), but they both fought in little bursts, each man landing some decent shots in the first three rounds, with a fairly even first, a round for Linares in the second, and a round for Mitchell in the third. The fourth round saw Linares dictate the pace and control the fight as he had done in the second, but he was dropped 40 seconds into the fifth round, giving Mitchell new life in the fight.
Linares, however, recovered pretty well from that, and got back into his rhythm in the sixth. Mitchell bounced back in the seventh, and the seesaw battle was on. Mitchell's left eye got cut up and became an issue in the eighth round, and he started giving ground to Linares, who targeted the bad eye with jabs and right hands.
Mitchell was hurt on a right early in the 10th round, and sensing the opportunity, Linares pressed him against the ropes with a massive two-handed assault, lighting him up as Mitchell desperately tried to cover up. With blood pouring from Mitchell's face and a hematoma forming on his left eye, Mitchell gave it one last go with a counter attack that drew a huge rise from the audience, though they were silenced moments later when Mitchell crumbled to a knee in the corner, once again eating shots from Linares.
Mitchell got back to his feet, but Loughlin took a look at Mitchell's grotesque face and stopped the bout, with no complaint from anyone. The man was spent, beaten up, and had given everything he had. It wound up being a pretty damn good fight, not action-packed but evenly-matched and with some points of high drama, plus some nice back-and-forth that kept us guessing until it was over.