Boxing: Mitchell battles back from the depths to share Khan's limelight

Kevin Mitchell was working the midnight maintenance shift on London Underground 10 months ago and at the same time Amir Khan was refining his tabloid image as the young, available millionaire about town. Tonight they come closer to an inevitable meeting when they each have world title fights to win.

Mitchell will leave the heaving privacy of the home dressing room at Upton Park and, as Stinky Turner and the Cockney Rejects launch into a live version of the West Ham anthem "Bubbles", the boxer will walk through 20,000 people to a fight that he simply must not lose.

A few minutes later the interim World Boxing Organisation lightweight champion, Australia' Michael Katsidis, will join Mitchell in the centre of the arena and begin to remove the 160 pounds of metal armour that he wears for his ring entrance.

A few hours later in New York, in the basement at Madison Square Garden, which was once known as the fabulous Felt Forum, Khan will defend his World Boxing Association light-welterweight title against local fighter Paulie Malignaggi in front of fewer than 5,000 people.

Malignaggi is a nice guy with a big mouth and he has, according to Khan's trainer Freddie Roach, talked himself into the fight, which is the truth.

Khan has more to lose against Malignaggi, who was halted in round 11 of a cruel and slow beating by Ricky Hatton in Las Vegas in late 2008, because his fight is all about looking good in front of American cameras and the American fans.

Incidentally, the encounter ends a run of Khan's fights on Sky's pay-per-view arm in the United Kingdom and will be shown live on ITV, who according to most reliable sources paid a tiny nominal fee for the pleasure.

"This is all about raising Amir's profile and taking him to the next level," said Richard Schaeffer, chief executive at Golden Boy promotions, the company Khan ran to when he left Frank Warren late last year.

The danger is that Malignaggi has a great chin, he can fiddle with the best and he can make good fighters look bad. Khan, meanwhile, has to stop him quicker and more clinically than Hatton managed.

The other, more immediate, problem for Khan, Roach and everybody else in the Amir Khan business is that there are two other high-profile and unbeaten world champions at his weight and he will have to fight them or risk the Americans and, more importantly, American television walking away from his swinging charms. It is difficult to manipulate the American TV paymasters.

Khan will beat Malignaggi, but if the local fighter wants to go the distance he will because he is slick enough. It will take a lot of spin from Khan's people to claim that winning on points is a better outcome than winning by stoppage. Khan, hopefully, will fight sensibly so that he gets the job done more quickly than Hatton, whose role as the division's official cash cow he will inherit in glory.

Mitchell lost his way from the boxing ring last year and found work on the Underground to make ends meet. "I'd had hand injuries, the fights were slow and I was skint. I needed money and did what proper people do: I went to work and worked hard. I will do it again if I have to," Mitchell said.

He had trials at West Ham as a boy and has re-defined the meaning of "home-town hero" with the of his promoter, Warren.

Tonight he will be roared on like a returning legend with a cast of real Eastenders thick as old-time thieves sitting at ringside.

Ray Winstone, the daddy of ring and screen, will be chief cheerleader and "little Kev", as he is known by everybody, will have to survive some savage spells before winning. It will be a hard night to forget.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
glastonbury
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Shock of the news: Jake Gyllenhaal in ‘Nightcrawler’
filmReview: Gyllenhaal, in one of his finest performances, is funny, engaging and sinister all at once
Arts and Entertainment
Shelley Duvall stars in Stanley Kubrick's The Shining
filmCritic Kaleem Aftab picks his favourites for Halloween
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Kit Harington has been given a huge pay rise to extend his contract as Jon Snow in Game of Thrones
tv
Life and Style
Taste the difference: Nell Frizzell tucks into a fry-up in Jesse's cafe in east London
food + drinkHow a bike accident left one woman living in a distorted world in which spices smell of old socks and muesli tastes like pork fat
Sport
Luke Shaw’s performance in the derby will be key to how his Manchester United side get on
footballBeating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Life and Style
Google's doodle celebrating Halloween 2014
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Don’t send in the clowns: masks and make-up conceal true facial expressions, thwarting our instinct to read people’s minds through their faces, as seen in ‘It’
filmThis Halloween, we ask what makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?
News
peopleFarage challenges 'liberally biased' comedians to 'call him a narcissist'
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior IP Opportunity at Major Firm

vary Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - AN OPENING AT A VERY HIGH Q...

Nursery Manager

£100 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Ilford: Nursery Manager Long term Ran...

Sales Consultant – Permanent – West Sussex – £24-£25k plus commission and other benefits

£24000 - £25000 Per Annum plus company car and commission: Clearwater People S...

SEN Teaching Assistant

£45 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Supply SEN Support Jobs in Bris...

Day In a Page

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes