Boxing: Mitchell keeps mum after a round in last chance saloon

Intriguing all-British battle sees rising star return from six-month binge to take on unbeaten Murray

After the unseemly welter of words, mainly tiresome, tasteless trashtalk, that preceded the protracted build-up to last night's heavyweight happening in Hamburg, comes the welcome restoration of some semblance of nobility to the dark art.

Neither John Murray nor Kevin Mitchell, who meet at London's ExCel next Saturday, have a bad word to say about each other, preferring to exercise dignity and decorum before a potentially classic contest that could turn out to be the most fiery domesticdust-up of the year.

Lightweights they may be, but both are heavy on mutual respect. "I don't believe in all that bad-mouthing," says Mitchell. "There's no need for it. I think both of us prefer to get in the ring and let our fists do the talking."

A year ago Mitchell, fresh from sensationally beating Breidis Prescott, the Colombian who clobbered Amir Khan, fought the Australian Michael Katsidis for the interim world lightweight title at West Ham. One of the ring's brightest young stars was demolished inside three rounds, admitting later that he had not prepared properly for what was the fight of his life because of personal problems that affected his training.

His reaction was to embark on a six-month drinking binge that only ended when his feisty mother, Alice – who could be a ringer personality-wise for namesake Peggy Mitchell, late of TV's EastEnders – literally dragged him out of the pub.

Her wayward son had sought solace in alcohol. "After the fight I jumped on the booze for six months," he admits. "My mum suddenly decided she'd seen enough of it, came into the pub, pulled me out and said, 'Right, kid, you've got to get yourself back on track.' She told me, 'You're better than this. Stop messing around and sort your head out.' My dad backed her up and I agreed that they were right, so I got back into the gym a month before Christmas, started ticking over and boom, here I am.

"My trainer, Jimmy Tibbs, has rarely let me out of his sight and believe me, I am in the condition of my life. Seeing my mum and dad together again [they are separated], yanking me out of the pub and telling me to buck my ideas up, well, it gave me a big kick up the arse. The penny dropped.

"In the Katsidis fight, things hadn't gone according to plan. But a lot had gone wrong before it all happened. I wasn't living the life. My family life wasn't right. People around me could see it. My brother came into the dressing room, clouted me round the head and told me to liven myself up. The concentration wasn't there. But this time I'm ready.

"Everything is straightened out now," he says. "Nothing like that will ever happen again. Now I am definitely in a better place. I want to get back on top. I know I was almost there and I can be again."

First he has to get past Murray, a Mancunian with the longest unbeaten run in British boxing, 31 wins stretching back eight years. Mitchell has lost only one [to Katsidis] in 32, with a higher percentage of knockouts.

Unlike the spiky Essex boy, Murray is a more reserved character. Tired of not getting the big fights he wanted under his previous management, he has now joined Mitchell in Frank Warren's stable. "This fight's been a long time in the making and a victory will really propel me into the public consciousness," says Murray.

"It wasn't my best performance last time out [when he outpointed Karim El Ouazghari in April] but I've got an underrated boxing brain. And this time I'm going to use it. If Kevin thinks I'm just a come-forward slugger, he's in for a shock."

Mitchell counters: "John is tough but there's nothing there to worry me. I'll knock him out. He's aggressive and he's been getting away with it at domestic level, but let's see how he reacts when he walks on to my shots."

This banter is the nearest they have come to verbal aggro before a North versus South Sky-televised pairing that promises to produce a memorable scrap, a genuine 50-50 fight between two 26-year-olds of differingstyles and temperaments.

Murray gave up his European title in order to fight Mitchell for this vacant WBO Inter-Continental championship, a prelude to a possible full-blown world title fight with the WBA champion, Brandon Rios. At least this is the gameplan, according to Warren's sons, George and Francis, who are making their own promotional debut, no doubt with a little help from dad.

This is a hard one to pick. My hunch is the more methodical Murray may possess the slicker ringcraft and the greater resolution. But much depends on how well Mitchell has recovered from his alcoholic aberration.

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
A teenager boy wakes up.
life
Life and Style
It is believed that historically rising rates of alcohol consumption have contributed to the increase
food + drink
Voices
The erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey has already been blamed for a rise in the number of callouts to the fire brigade for people trapped in handcuffs
voicesJustine Elyot: Since Fifty Shades there's no need to be secretive about it — everyone's at it
Arts and Entertainment
Critics say Kipling showed loathing for India's primitive villagers in The Jungle Book
filmChristopher Walken, Bill Murray, Scarlett Johanssen Idris Elba, Andy Serkis, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett and Christian Bale
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Playing to win: for Tanith Carey, pictured with Lily, right, and Clio, even simple games had to have an educational purpose
lifeTanith Carey explains what made her take her foot off the gas
Arts and Entertainment
The White Sails Hospital and Spa is to be built in the new Tunisia Economic City.
architectureRussian billionaire designs boat-shaped hospital for new Dubai-style Tunisia Economic City
Arts and Entertainment
You could be in the Glastonbury crowd next summer if you follow our tips for bagging tickets this week
music
Sport
Husain Abdullah returns an interception off Tom Brady for a touchdown
nflLeague has rules against 'sliding to ground on knees'
Life and Style
tech
Extras
indybest
Life and Style
food + drink
News
i100
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Kylie performs during her Kiss Me Once tour
musicReview: 26 years on from her first single, the pop princess tries just a bit too hard at London's O2
Arts and Entertainment
film
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

Java Developer - web services, XML and API

£330 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Lond...

Maths Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Reading: Maths Teacher required to teach Furthe...

Primary teachers required for schools in Norwich

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Primary teachers requ...

Trainee Helpdesk Analyst / 1st Line Application Support Analyst

£18000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

Day In a Page

Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
Witches: A history of misogyny

Witches: A history of misogyny

The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style