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
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Voices
The Palace of Westminster is falling down, according to John Bercow
voices..says Matthew Norman
Sport
Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet clash
football
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Graham Norton said Irish broadcaster RTE’s decision to settle was ‘moronic’
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jake and Dinos Chapman were motivated by revenge to make 'Bring me the Head of Franco Toselli! '
arts + ents Shapero Modern Gallery to show explicit Chapman Brothers film
Arts and Entertainment
Kurt Cobain performing for 'MTV Unplugged' in New York, shortly before his death
music Brett Morgen's 'Cobain: Montage of Heck' debunks many of the myths
Life and Style
life
Sport
Brendan Rodgers
football The Liverpool manager will be the first option after Pep Guardiola
News
Amazon misled consumers about subscription fees, the ASA has ruled
news
Arts and Entertainment
Myanna Buring, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Russell Tovey in 'Banished'
TV Jimmy McGovern tackles 18th-century crime and punishment
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Whitehouse as Herbert
arts + ents
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

Recruitment Genius: Lettings and Sales Negotiator - OTE £46,000

£16000 - £46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Home Care Worker - Reading and Surrounding Areas

£9 - £13 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity to join a s...

Recruitment Genius: Key Sales Account Manager - OTE £35,000

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Have you got a proven track rec...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £40,000

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn