Boxing: Burns proves firepower in demolishing Mitchell


Glasgow has been the scene of many a feisty scrap on a Saturday night and the city's favourite fighting son, Ricky Burns produced a classic performance to retain his WBO world lightweight title with a victory over Londoner Kevin Mitchell that demonstrated he is now among Scotland's greatest ring artists.

Yet while Burns was favourite, the manner of his win was one that few could have predicted. Never noted as a puncher, the 29-year-old twice floored Mitchell with belting blows in an exhibition of box-fighting that stunned the 8,000 crowd last night at the SECC Arena as well as the bemused challenger.

Only one second of the fourth round remained when referee Terry O'Connor pushed himself between the fighters with Mitchell being battered on the ropes.

Burns, who built his reputation – and acquired both featherweight and lightweight world titles – on skill and technique, suddenly turned savage, inflicting only the second defeat of Mitchell's 35-fight career. It was expected that this would be a classic duel in which Mitchell's spiteful punching might be neutralised by the methodical guile of Burns. In fact it was the Scot who turned aggressor from the outset, much to the surprise and delight of his supporters.

Mitchell seemed to have edged an opening round that set the pace for the brief bout, jarring Burns with a right hand. But from then on it was Burns's own swinging right that was to dominate. Never afraid to mix it in mid-ring, he frequently stunted Mitchell's advance with that competently thrown punch, beckoning Mitchell into the fray. After being caught by one of them in the third round, a right to the temple, Mitchell beat his chest Tarzan-like as if to say: "Bring it on."

Burns did just that, a left hook sending Mitchell tottering back and down for a count of eight before a series of those thudding right-hand volleys put him on his back again in the fourth. Burns pursued him relentlessly and referee O'Connor might well have stopped it before he did as the bell was about to sound for the end of the round.

Such was the intensity of the fight that it was hard to believe that these two "auld enemies" from north and south of the border are actually the best of pals outside the ropes. This was underscored when Mitchell sportingly raised Burns's hand as they hugged when the decision was formally announced and later, as they sat together on the ring apron, arms around each other, they indicated they might be sharing a beer together later.

"It's only a boxing match, nothing personal," Mitchell had said before the bout. And he did well to disguise his disappointment as Burns told him: "I said you'd bring out the best in me."

"He done a job on me tonight." Mitchell admitted. "I couldn't believe how quickly he covered the ground. I know I said before that I didn't think he could punch but he proved me wrong."

The newly-wed Burns, who now wants to unify the title, said: "The build-up for the fight was just perfect to me. I felt so much physically stronger. I knew I had to keep the pressure on him and once I got him on the ropes I knew it was all over."

Frank Warren is surely right when he says that Burns is the most improved fighter in the land. "It was a fantastic performance," the promoter said.

Scott Harrison, who at 35 is making a comeback after an even longer ring absence than Ricky Hatton, won his second fight following seven years away from boxing – several of them spent in a Spanish jail.

The former world featherweight champion from Glasgow defeated Nottingham school teacher Joe Elfidh on a 60-53 points decision over six rounds but it is clear that he has some way to go before regaining anything like his former status.

Elfidh, who was a short-notice opponent, seemed to be heading for an early exit when he was floored with a left hook in the opening round but he recovered to prove an elusive target, giving Harrison a sounder workout than he had anticipated. Yet the Scot declared, in Hatton-esque style: "I'm back – I feel better than when I was champion."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power