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
Rita Ora will replace Kylie Minogue as a judge on The Voice 2015
tv
Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
life
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Tennis player Andy Murray's mum Judy has been paired with Anton du Beke for Strictly Come Dancing. 'I'm absolutely delighted,' she said.
tvJudy Murray 'struggling' to let Anton Du Beke take control on Strictly
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
Extras
indybest
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

English teachers required in Lowestoft

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Qualified English tea...

Business Development Director - Interior Design

£80000 - £100000 per annum + competitive + bonus + benefits: Sauce Recruitment...

Sales Director, Media Sponsorship

£60000 - £65000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: A globally successful media and ...

Head of Affiliate Sales for Emerging Markets

competitive + benefits: Sauce Recruitment: Are you looking for your next role ...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits