Mitchell to follow Khan in landing world title chance
Kevin Mitchell remains on course for a world title challenge later this year after an eighth-round stoppage victory over Rudy Encarnacion
By LEN WHALEY
Kevin Mitchell remains on course for a world title challenge later this year after an eighth-round stoppage victory over Rudy Encarnacion at the MEN Arena on Saturday night.
While star-of-the-show Amir Khan claimed a maiden world championship success by lifting the WBA light-welterweight crown in the feature fight, undefeated Mitchell recorded his 29th straight pro success on the undercard of the Manchester show, which drew more than 10,000 fans.
Now the British super-featherweight champion hopes that contest number 30 will bring his own world title chance, with promoter Frank Warren hoping to tempt WBO champion Roman Martinez to London to face No1 ranked challenger Mitchell.
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With just eight minutes of serious boxing in the past 12 months following an extended break for a hand operation, Mitchell used his Manchester outing to shake off the ring rust before forcing an eighth-round stoppage in a one-sided encounter.
"All the sparring in the gym isn't the same as actually fighting and I knew it would take me a few rounds to get into my rhythm," said Mitchell, who is trained by Paul Cook.
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Encarnacion, 30, was a late substitute for original opponent John Gicharu, but the seasoned campaigner presented few problems as dominant Mitchell never looked like losing a round.
To his credit, Encarnacion bravely soaked up shots during the early rounds, but he began to stagger as Mitchell drove him backwards across the ring in the eighth round.
And with less than 30 seconds of the round remaining, referee Steve Grey decided he had seen enough and sensibly signalled the end of the contest.
Also scoring inside-the-distance wins on the MEN show were Olympic duo Billy Joe Saunders and James DeGale, who are trained by East London coaches Jimmy Tibbs and Jim McDonnell.
Tibbs expressed his satisfaction after Saunders stopped veteran Matt Scriven after 1min 21secs of the second round.
"Scriven is a tough survivor - I didn't expect Billy Joe to stop him as quickly as that," admitted the respected trainer.
McDonnell also expressed his delight at the display of DeGale, who gave his best pro display by blasting out Belfast's Ciaran Healy inside a round.