Made in Dagenham, Born Again in Liverpool
Kevin Mitchell 32-1 (24) sensationally stopped John Murray 31-1 (18) in 8 rounds last night at the Liverpool Echo Arena as the Lightweight 'Battle of Britain' lived up to its pre-fight billing and delivered a fight that represented everything positive about the fight game we all love.
On a night when the longest unbeaten record in British boxing came to an end former British and European Champion Murray finally paid for a disregard of his opponents punch power, Kevin Mitchell conquered his personal demons to win out in a fight of the year candidate.
Mitchell was busy and mobile throughout the opener, rotating to his left to deliver left jabs, hooks and uppercuts while Murray held his guard high and plodded forward stalking his opponent.
Second round Mitchell was less active and Murray detonated big right hands and got the better of exchanges on the ropes to win the round on my card.
In the third Mitchell got back on his bike, circling to his left to jump in and out with a variety of punches and showing good evasive action to avoid Murray's chopping rights.
The fourth saw Murray hitting fresh air too often and Mitchell ducked and dived to avoid punishment as the unbeaten Manchester warrior continued to walk the Dagenham man down.
The fifth round had Mitchell beating Murray to the punch and making the Mancunian miss, Murray's right eye swelling through the accumulation of accurate spiteful shots taken full in the face. Mitchell also to show facial swelling as the volume of Murray's punches began to take its toll.
By the sixth Mitchell was bouncing around the ring boxing Murray on the back foot and timing his attacks beautifully. Murray's facial damage worsened during the round and Mitchell raised his arm at the bell as he perhaps sensed the momentum had now shifted firmly into his favour. Mick 'The Rub' Williamson worked to reduce swelling around both eyes of Murray as he sat on his stool bearing the bruises of battle.
In the seventh Murray became an easy target, still coming forward but walking straight on to Mitchell's jabs. The left eye started to bleed, referee Richie Davies pausing to take a closer look at the worsening damage. Murray appeared to visibly tire as the round wore on and the two men exchanged blows. With 12 seconds left in the round left uppercut rocked Murray to his boots as the pair traded shots in close. Mitchell followed it up with a stinging left hook on Murray's chin that shook Murray to his core as the round drew to a close. Back in his corner Murray looked dejected while trainer Joe Gallagher held three fingers up to test his vision before being pushed out of the ring for taking too long to exit stage left.
The eighth round had Mitchell claiming the centre of the ring and teeing off at will as Murray's balance began to desert him. Murray caught Mitchell with a left hook and chopping right on the ropes after a minute and for a moment the fight appeared to hang in the balance, but barely 30 seconds later Murray walked on to a huge left hook that dropped him to his knees with 90 seconds of the round remaining. Murray bravely rose and was allowed to box on. More left hooks and another uppercut landed before the referee jumped in to save Murray from serious harm and the crowd who by now were generating an electric atmosphere roared their appreciation.
In the post-fight interview with Adam Smith, Mitchell was complimentary to Murray citing his decision to take this fight rather than a world title shot as one that imbued a love for his compatriot. As if to reinforce his self-belief and restored confidence, Mitchell promised Murray he would defend his future world title against him.
There's a vacancy at the high table of British boxing for a new hero and Kevin Mitchell is back. Watch this space.