By Andrew Walker - Kevin Mitchell just a few years ago was one of the leading lights of our up and coming British boxing talent. But despite not losing a fight he has seen his star wane somewhat this last year (largely in part due to his injury and subsequent surgery) as his promoter Frank Warren has concentrated on the career of Amir Khan and as of late the three Olympians, Gavin, De Gale and Saunders.
Indeed Mitchell who has headlined small cards for Warren and has been chief support at some of the larger ones in the past faced the indignity of not even being televised on the most recent Warren promotion. A fate he shared with former cruiserweight champion Enzo Maccarinelli who has seen his gamble of taking the Haye fight derail his own career spectacularly these last eighteen months or so..
But unlike Big Mac, Mitchell has not lost a fight. He has been out with an injury which required surgery but despite this his recent low billing on the Khan PPV event must have been disappointing for the Dagenham man. Appreciated his opponent was far from stellar but surely a more suitable televised slot could have been found even allowing for the fact it was only Mitchellís second comeback fight after his surgery.
But Mitchellís level of competition has also stagnated over the years previous to his recent injury and he seems to have fought far too many journeyman and not enough rival prospects to raise his game to where he should be now career wise after twenty nine fights. In this modern era plenty of boxers only have that many bouts in their entire careers. Due in part to his lacklustre opposition Mitchell has also been content to defeat his opponents with his superior chin and power or a combination of both whilst neglecting his movement and defence.
This is not the way to prepare your self for taking on the leading lights of the super featherweight division. Take a look at Kevin Mitchellís career stats and you will be hard pressed to find any decent talent (depending on your own view of what corresponds to talent of course) outside of Carl Johanneson, which was Mitchellís best performance to date in my opinion.
His next fight on the under card of the Kelly Pavlik vs. Gary Lockett promotion was against Walter Estrada a man TKOíd by Scott Harrison inside five rounds back in 2004. Mitchell struggled against Estrada early on and was being caught at will before he KOíd his opponent in the fifth. But up until that point Mitchell looked out boxed and was marking up. Surely this should not have been happening against an opponent of this calibre if Mitchell was to be considered as a serious prospect in the super featherweight division?
Mitchell was out of the ring for just short of a year whilst having his surgery and his comeback fight was against Lanquaye Wilson who at the time of the contest had a career consisting of 1-2-0. Now there is careful match making and then there is plain mismatching. What did the camp expect to learn from this pointless exercise? Nothing that could not have been found out in training whilst sparring. Inevitably Mitchell stopped Wilson via TKO in the third round but it was a terrible display to watch.
On the Khan show last time out Mitchell defeated Rudy Encarnacion via an eighth round TKO. I canít comment on the fight as I have still not seen it but Iím assuming (and you know what they say about assumption) the performance was not stellar and this may very well be why Mitchell is decamping from the Cook gym to go over to the USA to train at the wild card gym with Freddie Roach. Hopefully Freddie can do something with Mitchellís defence and kick start his career again. Iím sure Mitchell will be getting tougher sparring sessions than he has had fights over in the Roach camp.
Iím not trying to knock Kevin Mitchell as I really like the chap. Iím just a little disappointed for him that his career seems to have stalled whilst others around him have moved on up. If things had stayed as they were he would soon have been supporting the likes of Anthony Small or the Olympian trio rather than getting the big fights and headlines he should be achieving at this stage of his career.
Lets hope Freddie Roach can work his magic and little Kev is put into some meaningful fights to showcase his power, chin and heart. Hopefully with some added defence also.