Boxing's pride hangs on Battle of Britain

World lightweight champion Burns and Mitchell will do talking in ring

If Andrew Flintoff's planned excursion into the ring is, as Frank Warren warns, "car-crash television" then the confirmed return of Ricky Hatton surely is equally an accident waiting to happen.

Both prospects should fill the fight game with foreboding, doing little credit to the British Boxing Board of Control, who seem happy to licence both misadventures.

Thankfully there is a timely reminder that this is still a sport to be taken seriously, with the all-British WBO world lightweight title fight in Glasgow next Saturday between hometown holder Ricky Burns and London challenger Kevin Mitchell destined to be one for the genuine fans, though possibly not for the faint-hearted.

Promoter Warren predicts that this could be the fight of the year, an enthralling domestic dust-up between two fighters in their prime with excitingly contrasting styles and personalities.

Burns, 29, with 36 fights and two defeats to 27-year-old Mitchell's 34 with one loss, are intriguingly matched. The outcome may well depend on how well the spiky Mitchell has recovered from the self-admitted alcoholic aberration which surrounded his crushing defeat by the Australian Michael Katsidis on an ill-starred night at Upton Park two years ago. Subsequently Burns boxed superbly to take the lightweight title against Katsidis last November, adding to his super-featherweight belt.

Mitchell certainly looked back to his best when he stopped the better-fancied John Murray last year, and has returned from high- altitude training in the mountains of Montana unfazed at having to venture into Burns's backyard. He said: "Sometimes you have to go into the lion's den to have a right old punch-up. It's gonna be me versus him, and whatever happens, happens. Hostile crowds are not a big deal for me. All I know is that it will be a helluva war."

The view is shared by co-trainer Mark Tibbs: "Kevin's such a spiteful and vicious little sod with serious punch-power. He's also a very smart fighter who reads between the lines and instinctively seems to know what's going on in his opponent's head. It will be brutal."

Burns will be undaunted. The Scot may be among the least visible and voluble of world champions but there is no shortage of bottle in his armoury. He still works part-time in a sports shop, says he gets embarrassed signing autographs and wanted to tear down posters depicting him as a Scottish Rocky.

"I'm just an ordinary laddie," he said. "I like to keep myself to myself and do my talking in the ring."

Refreshingly, there has been no bad-mouthing between the combatants, who actually are quite pally outside the ropes, though friendship will be forgotten once the Caledonian clamour is turned up full volume at the SEEC Arena as MC Michael Buffer urges the 8,000 crowd to get ready to rumble.

"When fight night comes, me and Kevin are in there to do a job and trash talk won't win anything," says Burns, who has grown in stature and confidence since becoming a champion. I suspect Burns may have the ring nous to survive Mitchell's sustained fusillade and work his way methodically to a close points victory.

Burns versus Mitchell is live on BoxNation (; Sky 437/Virgin 546)

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
The 67P/CG comet as seen from the Philae lander
scienceThe most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Ian McKellen as Gandalf in The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Koenig, creator of popular podcast Serial, which is to be broadcast by the BBC
tvReview: The secret to the programme's success is that it allows its audience to play detective
Ruby Wax has previously written about her mental health problems in her book Sane New World
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £60,000

£25000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Care Workers Required - The London Borough of Bromley

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This homecare agency is based in Beckenh...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair