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Lightweight Kevin Mitchell keeps world title dream alive with stoppage of John Murray

Eastender Kevin Mitchell clawed back his world title ambitions with an eighth-round stoppage of John Murray, the European lightweight champion, after weathering a storm from the Mancunian for the opening five rounds of their clash in Liverpool on Saturday.


The match-up had promised a great deal. It delivered in droves, the greatest shock being the sudden wilting of Murray in the seventh round, his capitulation in the eighth, and Mitchell’s cool, clinical brutality in finishing the contest to gain bragging rights to the British scene and with it, move on upwards.

The British pair had both proclaimed this encounter to be a stepping stone to a world title clash with World Boxing Association lightweight champion Brandon Rios on their radars. After such a performance, Mitchell gets the opportunity to pursue that dream.

Mitchell credited a disciplined training camp for his victory. “I’ve been living back at my mum’s house now for 11 months,” he said.

Murray suffered his first loss in 32 contests, Mitchell moved to 32-1.

There was action from the first bell as Mitchell carried the fight to Murray and landed right hands from the off to both head and body.

Murray is the more natural pressure fighter, though, and landed rights of his own but ended the round bleeding from the nose.

Mitchell was sprightly on his feet but Murray looked the boss as he took the second, landing a big overhand right and later trapping Mitchell in the corner with a series of left hooks. A four-punch volley from Mitchell finished the third strongly but he still lost the round.

A superb fourth was edged by Mitchell as he landed regularly and avoided punishment, hitting Murray with a three-punch combination featuring a lovely left uppercut.

Mitchell kept largely to the ropes but remained faithful to that hurtful left uppercut in the fifth. Murray was more aggressive and more resilient to Mitchell’s solid shots but the Londoner remained well in it.

Indeed, Murray’s eyes were swollen and a cut had opened beneath the left. Mitchell landed sharp combinations as Murray waded in and, worryingly for Murray, the right eye was nearly closed by the end of the seventh.

Before the bell a right hand and left uppercut stunned Murray but Mitchell seemed slow to capitalise before the session ended.

Mitchell had the momentum and he utilised it to force a stylish stoppage in the eighth. A left hook to the chin as Murray waded in snapped the unbeaten man’s head sideways and he crashed to the canvas.

He rose to his feet but looked in complete disarray and, when Mitchell thudded home another left hook and left uppercut, referee Richie Davies stopped it to hand Mitchell his redemption.

Earlier on the Liverpool card, Ricky Burns retained his WBO super-featherweight title with a bizarre first-round stoppage victory against former champion Nicky Cook.

Scotsman Burns, from Coatbridge, ensured he remains on course for higher-profile showdowns tonight but his win came in strange circumstances.

He floored his man three times but, when Cook failed to recover from a back injury sustained from the first knock-down, his corner pulled him out. It was later confirmed that Cook’s injury was a prolapsed disc.

Burns said of the early body shot which apparently caused the injury: “It was a shot right on his ribs and I felt him go straightaway. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s got a broken rib too.

I said I wanted to go out fast at the start and obviously the first punch was a good one. I’m sure Nicky was prepared properly. He wanted to win, but it was a good shot.”

Former amateur star Frankie Gavin laboured through twelve rounds to retain his unbeaten record with a split decision win over former footballer Curtis Woodhouse, while Tony Bellew added the vacant British light-heavyweight title to his Commonwealth belt with a measured unanimous decision win over Ovill McKenzie.

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