Ricky Burns (35-2, 10) successfully defended his WBO Lightweight title for a second time with arguably his most impressive victory to date by stopping Englishman Kevin Mitchell in the 4th round. Not only was Burns marvelous in victory but he proved that he hit far harder than fans around the world thought.
The opening round was close with both men having their successes though it seemed as if Mitchell may have done just enough to take it with what appeared to be excellent boxing and fantastic movement. The Englishman appeared to neutralise the fantastic burns jab which wasn't landing with the usual success that Burns often has with it. Sadly however this was to be the only round that Mitchell could even claim to have been close to winning.
In the second round Burns really put his foot on the gas and thoroughly dominated Mitchell, landing time and time again with his right hand. Whilst the right hand was a major weapon Burns was also willing to trade an appeared to be be the stronger man when the two fighters did go toe-to-toe. The fact Burns was winning when the two men were brawling was really a major point and seemed to almost deflate Mitchell who was being out-boxed and out-fought.
Burns' domination continued in the third round where he just looked a class better than Mitchell and much, much stronger. It seemed like everything Burns landed got to the challenger, whilst Mitchell's own shots had little to no effect on the champion who was in complete control by the end of the round.
In the fourth round Burns' dominance showed as he wobbled Mitchell with a hard, hurtful shot, just seconds later Mitchell was dropped. Despite taking his time to get to his feet Mitchell never really recovered and was dropped again soon afterwards. With the clock ticking down, Burns went in for the kill and wailed away on Mitchell forcing the referee to step in and wave the bout off with just seconds remaining in the round.
For Burns this is really the fight that puts him head and shoulders ahead of everyone else in Britain, and concretes his standing as one of the very best in the world. Whilst the likes of Richard Abril, Antonio DeMarco and Miguel Vazquez may all claim to be the best, Burns would give any of them a 50-50 fight and seems to be growing into a fighter who knows he can throw hurtful shots. A very impressive performance.
For Mitchell, I think we are done with thinking he's a "world level" fighter, however he's in an awkward position as he's certainly better than many of the top European Lightweights. I can't help but think that he's simply too small for Lightweight and will be over-powered by any genuine Lightweight. If he can make Super Featherweight the best idea would be to drop down, if he can't then he's in a very, very tough position.