Gallant Dagenham man Mitchell stopped in world title battle
PUBLISHED: 22:08 30 May 2015 | UPDATED: 22:08 30 May 2015
PA/Press Association Images
The Hammer floored champion Jorge Linares but in a real war, it was the Venezuelan who stopped the Dagenham man
Dagenham Destroyer Kevin Mitchell was denied his dream of a world title as champion Jorge Linares climbed off the floor to force a stoppage win in the 10th round at the 02 ton ight.
The West Ham United fan put in a brilliant performance and put the champion down in round five with a stunning right/left combination, but the experience of Linares to survive the onslaught and then storm back to win in the closing stages meant it was heartbreak for Mitchell who was ahead on two of the three cards when the referee finally and rightly called a halt.
Mitchell came into the ring to the cheers of his home supporters and with the crossed Hammers on his t-shirt, hopefully inspired by the performance of Lee Selby in claiming his world title in the previous bout. He looked relaxed and determined, but he knew what a huge night this was for him.
After failing to prepare properly for both his previous world title fights, it was vital for Mitchell to get things right in what was almost certainly going to be a third and last chance for the 30-year-old.
Family problems had scuppered his big chance against Aussie Michael Katsidis at Upton Park back in 2010, while more out of the ring trouble cost him the fight against Ricky Burns two years later.
But under Tony Sims’ tutelage in the Matchroom Gym it has been a new, determined and serious Mitchell that came into this fight. He had been so imopressive in knocking out talented Mexican Daniel Estrada in eight rounds at the O2 back in January in what he had described as his best performance.
He would need to be as good against Linares, a three-weight world champion from Venezuela, who lives and has most of his fights in Japan, and was a formidable opponent.
The 29-year-old, who had a very similar record to Mitchell of 38 wins and three losses, had grabbed the WBO World Lightweight title back in December with a four-round demolition of Javier Prieto of Mexico over in Tokyo.
This was the ‘Golden Boy’s’ first defence and he faced a hostile pro-Mitchell crowd at the 02, who sand ‘I’m forever Blowing Bubbles’ in tribute to their man.
Mitchell started the scheduled 12-rounder with measured jabs and some useful left hooks, but the bearded Linares is not world champion for nothing and in the final minute of the first he shook Mitchell with a thumping right, only for Mitchell to come back at the death.
Round two was a little quieter as the Dagenham man looked to keep Linares at bay which he did successfully until the last 20 seconds, when Linares hit him with a body shot and a right hand, which may have been enough to take the round.
Mitchell’s jab was the boss in round three as he boxed well at range to frustrate the champion, but Linares was back on it in the next.
A clash of heads left both boxers bleeding, Mitchell above the eye, but the Dagenham hit back at the end of the round to land some excellent hooks and hurt Linares.
The fifth was a storming round for Mitchell. Out of the blue, the east Londoner floored Linares with a superb right/left combination.
The champion stayed on his haunches for the eight count and then survived Mitchell’s onslaught as he tried to finish it.
Mitchell took a breather at the start of the sixth as it was clear he had put so much into round five. But his defence held Linares at bay and he hot the cham with a flurry at the end of the round.
Linares looked a frustrated man in the seventh as Mitchell continued to pick off the Venezuelan and though he did come back towards the end of the round, it was surely another for Mitchell.
But round eight proved the toughest so far for Mitchell as both eyes were cut and causing him problems as Linares sensed his chance. He laid into Mitchell with a flurry of punches to put Mitchell under pressure and the fight seemed to be turning the champion’s way.
The corner seemed to do their job with Mitchell’s cuts and the West Ham fan then did the business in the ring, keeping Linares at bay and picking him off to maybe shade the round once again.
But round 10 proved to be the moment when Mitchell’s dreams of a world title was ended. Linares rocked Mitchell with a huge flurry of punches as Mitchell struggled on the ropes and his face blew up as the champion continued to inflict damage.
Mitchell fought back gallantly, but when he was backed up into the corner again and went down on to his knees, the referee decided to call a halt with the Dagenham hero’s face a real mess.