Two-time world title challenger Kevin Mitchell kept his high hopes of a third world title tilt alive on Saturday night with a scintillating showpiece display against the rugged Mexican, Daniel Estrada at London’s O2 Arena.
There was significant importance surrounding tonight’s Lightweight contest, as a showdown with WBC champion Jorge Linares laid in wait for the victor.
Hall of fame trainer Nacho Beristain, along with his prized pupil Juan Manuel Marquez, were there to support their countryman Estrada, who was understandably pumped for this opportunity after his career defining bout with Omar Figueroa was marred by the sudden death of his younger sister and niece.
Nevertheless, the 29 year old fought through the grief against Figueroa and was tremendously unlucky to miss out on another shot at the lightweight crown tonight. This shows the true measure of the man.
As the opening bell sounded, it was immediately apparent that Estrada had a significant height advantage to Mitchell. Despite this though, it was an excellent start from the 30 year old, who frustrated his Mexican opponent while simply landing at will.
It was Round 3 when the fight began to really sizzle. Mitchell unleashed a thunderous right hook that unexpectedly dropped Estrada. However, as Mitchell chased the KO, Estrada landed a telling blow of his own, which shook the hometown fighter to his boots.
Mitchell did recover and continued to land when he saw fit in the next three minutes. The former British champion was throwing every punch in the book, taking very little in return, which begged the question, could Estrada stem the tide?
The longer the fight went on, Estrada’s reach was seemingly having less of an effect. Mitchell was turning on the style, as he began to bravely push his rival back to the ropes.
There was no doubt that Estrada would never give up, still, he was taking a shellacking in the first half of the fight, uppercuts from Mitchell jolted the Mexican’s head back continuously.
The seventh round began with a similar pattern, Mitchell was looking supremely confident, as Estrada’s left eye began to worsen considerably. The 29 year old was looking worried, yet his heart would not let him quit, as he attempted to turn the fight around.
A barrage of punches in the eighth left referee Ian John Lewis with no choice but to save Estrada from himself, calling the fight off with no complaints from the strong willed Mexican.
Mitchell was justifiably elated with his performance and is now hungry for that illustrious world crown.
“It was the best I’ve ever fought. Me and Tony were working on some southpaw shots and it was working,” Mitchell told Sky Sports.
Sky’s Ed Robinson also asked whether Mitchell will finally take the next step and win that famous world strap.
“I’ll win it, I’m loving my work in the gym, it would mean my life, my kids, everything I have ever dreamt of since aged 10,” said an elated Mitchell.
Mitchell’s trainer Tony Sims was also pleased with his charge’s display.
“He has had problems throughout his career, he’s had ups and downs, the downs when he got beat when he wasn’t in shape. He’s back in love with the sport, he’s a great fighter, Kevin Mitchell he’s back in love with the sport. He is world title material. I’ve told him that all along,” said Sims.
Matchroom Boxing mogul Eddie Hearn expressed his determined to make the Linares bout a reality for Mitchell, believing no Lightweight is safe with the Brit being in this type of form.”We want that shot, I would be devastated if he never got that world title. I have to deliver a shot for Kevin Mitchell. On that performance I believe he can beat any lightweight in the world, that was a career best performance from Kevin Mitchell,” said Hearn who is convinced of Mitchell’s class.
Also on the Capital Punishment bill were wins for Tommy Martin in an enthralling grudge match with rival Ricky Boylan and Middleweight contender John Ryder who took the spoils against Billi Godoy in a disappointing affair.
Although the fight of the night was undeniably the WBC International title shootout between Tyler Goodjohn and John Wayne Hibbert, with the pair going toe-to-toe for the eight rounds it lasted. In the end, Hibbert came out on top, with a lot of credit going to Goodjohn who showed amazing courage throughout the battle.
However, the night undoubtedly belonged to the new WBC Silver Lightweight Champion, Kevin Mitchell, who is clearly enjoying an Indian summer to his revived career. He claimed that he has never before been more ready for a shot at that evasive world title.
If and when he faces off against Linares, will it be third time lucky for the Londoner or will he fall at the final hurdle once again? This time, it just might be the latter.