September 22nd. The SECC in Glasgow. The fight that has been talked about for close to a year. The WBO world lightweight championship. Ricky Burns vs. Kevin Mitchell.

For twelve rounds, at the most, Ricky Burns’ and Kevin Mitchell’s friendship will be put to one side to determine who leaves Glasgow as the WBO world lightweight champion. Will Burns retain? Or will Mitchell finally live up to his promise? 

Is Mitchell’s head right?
It’s a question that pops up every time Kevin Mitchell has a fight announced. He only has himself to blame for that, though, given that his problems away from the ring followed him inside the ropes when Michael Katsidis obliterated him in three rounds. However, in fairness to Kevin, it would appear his past troubles are behind him. His 8th round TKO win against John Murray was a spectacular return to the ring and was a reminder of what he can do when his head is right. A ‘keep busy’ fight with Felix Lora followed, and while he didn’t set the place on fire with his performance, the 10 rounds he got in will have been valuable. If his head is right, he can, and will, cause Ricky Burns problems.

Accuracy vs. activity.
I’m expecting Burns to be the busier fighter. Everything comes off of Burns’ jab, and he throws it a lot. Burns has a notable three punch combination that he likes to use; left hook to the body, left jab, straight right. Those three punches have worked wonders for him and, so far, no fighter has managed to negate that offensive arsenal of his. Mitchell, similar to Burns in a sense, uses his jab to set up everything. Mitchell likes to use a jab, left hook combination, but he tends to do this sparingly and will only throw when his chances of landing are greater. Mitchell is an accurate puncher, but will he throw enough of them? Ricky, too is an accurate puncher, but he also lets his hands go more than Mitchell does. It will be up to Mitchell to stop Burns from having a high punch out-put, and if he can land a solid counter in the opening rounds that may go some-way to doing that.

Home-town advantage.
Mitchell is no stranger to going into the lions den and silencing the crowd; he went into John Murray’s backyard and subsequently stopped him in eight rounds in the British Fight of The Year for 2011. Burns’ last fight, against Paulus Moses, had an electric and fiery crowd. That fight was at the Braehead Arena though, and with the SECC holding around 10,000 it promises to be even louder. Will that affect Mitchell? I don’t think so, but it will have a highly positive affect on Burns who seems to perform better when the crowd emits a degree of hositility. Furthermore, will the judge’s be swayed by the pro-Burns crowd? Even when he isn’t landing a scoring punch, the “oohs and aahs” from the crowd may sway the judges minds in a close round.

It’s no secret that the power lies with Kevin Mitchell. That presents a good advantage for him if he happens to find himself down on the cards. If one plan fails, he will always have a punchers chance. Burns has been down before, and it’s highly possible he will taste the canvas again in this fight. Burns is not known for his power, but in fairness to him he hasn’t needed it. Power, in my opinion, is a luxury for a fighter and not a necessity.

Both fighters have their flaws defensively, but Burns seems more rounded on that front. When he’s trapped on the ropes he has the footwork to evade his opponent, and if that isn’t available to him he knows when to tie up. Mitchell can be hit. I’m ignoring his fight with Katsidis, but in his fight with John Murray he was tagged on numerous occasions in the opening 5 rounds.

Both fighters are going to have their moments of success. However I see Burns being more consistent with his. Mitchell won’t find many opportunities to land flush shots upon Burns, and his best bet may be to go solely to the body early on in an attempt to slow Burns down. The jab of Burns is the key for me. IF Mitchell can negate that, then this fight will be very, very close. This is Burns’ biggest fight in Glasgow since his victory over Roman Martinez, and I’m expecting him to shine once more. Burns via unanimous decision – around 116-112. 

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