WBO lightweight titleholder Ricky Burns continued his climb towards the summit of world boxing as he delivered his most explosive display yet, stopping English rival Kevin Mitchell with a fourth-round TKO at the SECC Glasgow, Scotland, on Saturday.
Great mates outside the ring and best of enemies inside it, the British pair served up a brief classic before home favorite Burns went into overdrive and unveiled his new-found power at 135 pounds to batter Mitchell into a state of no return.
The Scotland star, from nearby Coatbridge, was truly devastating. He dropped 27-year-old Mitchell twice in the final minute of round four and then, as he went to finish him off, gave referee Terry O’Conner no option but to call a halt to an increasingly one-sided contesto
If most had predicted Burns, THE RING’s No 3-rated lightweight, would emerge triumphant, very few expected his 20th victory on the spin to be secured in such quick-fire fashion. This is only the tenth time that the 29-year-old former junior lightweight holder has won inside the distance.
Afterwards a jubilant Burns confirmed what had been so evident to a 9,000 sell-out partisan crowd and then reiterated his ambition to become THE RING champion. Only the Mexican duo of Antonio DeMarco and Miguel Vazquez, No 1 and 2, respectively, block his route to the vacant lightweight belt.
“I said Kevin would bring out the best in me and he did. The whole build up went perfectly for me and I just feel so much physically stronger now,” said Burns (35-2, 10 knockouts). “On Monday, I will be on the phone to my promoter Frank Warren and my manager Alex Morrison and, hopefully, we can push for a unification fight.
“THE RING magazine know that is the belt I’ve always wanted to fight for. If they can help me into a position to do that it will be a dream come true.”
Mitchell, whose only other defeat was a third-round KO to Aussie Michael Katsidis, gave as good as he got in the opening round. Indeed, his accurate jabbing and one powerful right hook maybe meant he shaded it.
Yet, if Burns was behind, he swiftly made amends in the second and third, dominating from the centre of the ring and unloading ferocious attacks. One pin-point, searing straight right virtually stopped the man from south of the border in his tracks.
The writing was on the wall and Burns promptly rubberstamped his superiority by flooring Mitchell with 41 seconds of the fourth remaining. Although he beat that count, Mitchell was immediately dumped on his backside for a second time. The only question left was could Burns seal the job before the bell went. He did with the referee deeming Mitchell, THE RING’s No 4-rated lightweight, no longer capable of defending himself.
“Ricky’s done the job tonight. He was awesome and to be fair he keeps pulling it out of the bag every fight. I thought it would be a hard night and it was. I just didn’t think he’d be as quick covering the ground so early on,” said Mitchell (33-2, 24 KOs).
The last word should go to the holder who, following his second defense. paid a glowing tribute to his ever-growing Tartan army.
“The support I get in Glasgow is unbelievable and I’d just like to say a big thank you to everyone who came down. I just try to make everyone proud and hope I did that here,” he said.
Photos / Scott Heavey-Getty Images