Kevin Mitchell is back
By Tom Watt on Feb 3rd 2015
This weekend saw Kevin Mitchell take on Daniel Estrada for the right to become the WBC Silver Title holder and become mandatory challenger for Jorge Linares' full World Title belt.
It's been a long road back to the top for the Londoner after coming close on 2 occasions to securing his World Title dreams against Aussie brawler, Michael Katsidis and against fellow Brit and now close friend, Ricky Burns. Mitchell himself had said it was all or nothing for him at this stage in his career and the 30 year old certainly delivered.
Saturday night’s WBC Lightweight Title Eliminator between Kevin Mitchell and Daniel Estrada on the “Capital Punishment” card at the o2 Arena in London was originally billed as the co-Main Event for Anthony Joshua’s first headline fight against American Heavyweight Mitchell Johnson, however as the Olympic Gold Medalist was sidelined with a back injury, Mitchell took centre stage and did not disappoint.
It has been 4 and a half years since Mitchell failed to take home a World Title in front of a raucous Upton Park crowd and over 2 since his fight with Ricky Burns in Glasgow, since then the Londoner has barely looked a shadow of his former himself with well-documented personal problems outside the ring, poor dieting and a lack of love for his craft leading to him stagnating as a fighter - another World Title shot it seemed, was a long way away. Particularly after he failed to stay within the overnight weight-gain parameters for his IBF eliminator against an unbeaten Ghislain Maduma at Wembley last summer. - Even though Mitchell looked good and won the fight, many fans and pundits pointed to his lack of discipline in training and once again, ‘The Hammer’ was written off.
Fast forward to 2015 and the East-Londoner’s landscape is completely changed. The man we saw in the build-up to the Estrada fight looked like the young Mitchell that the fans fell in love with half a decade ago, relaxed, jovial and confident. In many pre-fight interviews Mitchell eluded to his new found happiness that has helped him re-discover his love for the sweet science, attributing his new lease of life and enthusiasm to his trainer, Tony Sims and his promoter, Eddie Hearn. Talk is cheap in Boxing though and the proof would be in the pudding.
Make no mistakes about this, this was a tough fight, Mitchell’s opponent, Daniel Estrada is no easy customer. And coming off the back of a World Title defeat against the fluid and aggressive Omar Figueroa Jr at the StubHub center on the undercard of Kell Brook Vs Shawn Porter, Estrada was desperate to make amends and get himself back into the World Title Contention. Accompanied by his team, including future Hall-Of-Famer Juan Manual Marquez, he looked confident and relaxed in the build-up. The stage was set for 2 warriors to go to work and everyone was expecting a classic battle.
As the fight began Mitchell got to work, moving well and controlling the centre of the ring with crisp jabs and a left uppercut that seemingly couldn't miss. Estrada tried to answer back but 'The Hammer' was too quick, landing almost at will and peppering the Mexican with combinations.
Despite Mitchell's dominance there was always a worry that he would get sucked in to a toe-to-toe battle and leave himself open and, in the 3rd round we got exactly that, Estrada tried to force himself back into the fight by taking the centre of the ring, coming forwards and letting his hands go. His attempts were not fruitful though and as he struggled to land anything on his evasive opponent he was caught by quick combination thar culminated in a sharp right hook that dropped him to the canvas. He got up quickly Mitchell put the pressure on in an attempt to end the fight but Estrada weathered the storm and shook off the knockdown before the end of the round.
That was to be the only knockdown of the evening but the Mitchell-Masterclass did not let up. He took command of every round, landing with what seemed like every punch he threw and making his top-ranked opponent look a level below for much of the fight. By the 8th round the fight was as good as over and Mexican's corner had seen enough and threw the towel in to save their man any more punishment. Mitchell was now the WBC mandatory challenger and finally had the World title shot in his sights that he so deeply craves.
The WBC have granted the current title holder, Jorge Linares a voluntary defence and he will exercise that choice before taking on his mandated challenger. That leaves Mitchell and his promoter, Eddie Hearn, with a tough decision to make as to whether to wait and risk losing the momentum they have built up or to take a fight but ultimately risk their mandatory status. - It is a problem facing a number of British fighters at the moment with both Tyson Fury and James DeGale in line for mandatory challenges to Klitschko and Froch respectively but neither seem likely to get those fights in the near future.
So we shall wait and see what's next for the British Lightweight, if he is able to sustain that level of focus and quality that he showed against Estrada then he would stand a great chance against some of the divisions big names such as Yuriorkis Gamboa, Mickey Bey, Ray Beltran or even the divisions reigning top-dog Terence Crawford. - All those fights seem unlikely and I would expect to see Mitchell up against a lesser ranked opponent as a 'keep warm' before he is granted his chance to finally get his hands on the coveted WBC World Title.
Whatever it is, 'The Hammer' is back on track and British fight fans have a few good nights ahead of them - maybe even a return to Upton Park?
1. FLOYD MAYWEATHER JR.
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