Boxing: Mitchell taught hard lesson

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The Independent Online

They were blowing bubbles at West Ham last night but sadly they burst over the battered head of Kevin Mitchell. The 25-year-old East Londoner fell into the trap set by Australian tough-nut Michael Katsidis, who retained his WBO Interim World Lightweight Championship with a third-round stoppage that stunned Mitchell and silenced a crowd of over 17,000.

Previously unbeaten in 31 fights, Mitchell was quickly ensnared by one of the shrewdest operators in the business. Katsidis enticed him into the sort of fight he definitely did not want to have. Mitchell had tried to box and move with the intelligence which flummoxed Bredis Prescott last year. Mitchell was chased and hustled on to the ropes – and that's not the place you want to be against the gladiator from Toowoomba.

What was hoped to be a good old cockney knees up turned into a nightmare night for the pale-faced Mitchell who could not fend off Katsidis with his jab-and-run game plan.

We knew he was in for a fight from the first brutal exchange and was rocked by a left hook in the second round but it was a series of seven hooks and crosses, which swayed his face from side to side and brought the intervention by referee Dave Parris after one minute 57 seconds of the third round. "He hit me with a left hook," said Mitchell, "and the next thing I knew, he'd stopped it."

Impressive as Mitchell's career has been to date, it was perhaps rather ambitious to hope that he could out-smart a man who knows the ropes and how to use them. But, as his former stable mate Amir Khan knows only too well, one bad defeat does not necessarily blight an entire career. However, it was a hard and bitter lesson for Mitchell to learn on the biggest night of his life.

Britain's three Olympic musketeers James DeGale, Frankie Gavin and Billy Jo Saunders all made sparkling progress in their respective bouts. DeGale, 25, the Beijing gold medallist, gave an outstanding performance of disciplined aggression to claim his first pro title, the WBA international super middleweight championship – cutting down Midlander Sam Horton in five rounds. The flamboyant DeGale floored Horton in the second and persistently battered him until dumping him in his own corner after two minutes six seconds of the fifth with a superb combination of punches. Horton had to receive oxygen while sitting on his stool.

Equally impressive was Frankie Gavin who mowed down his seventh opponent, light middleweight Gavin Tait of Carmarthen after only two minutes seven seconds. Middleweight Billy Jo Saunders, 25 back after one hand injury, sustained another with his one-way points victory (60-55) over Huddersfield's Andy Butlin.

The 51-fight career of Danny Williams, the 36-year-old enigmatic heavyweight who was enjoying his third reign as British champion, ended in ignominy with a second-round defeat at the hands of comparative novice Derek Chisora, who was having only his 13th bout.

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