World Boxing Organization (WBO) World Lightweight Champion Ricky Burns and challenger Kevin Mitchell may be good friends, but that isn’t stopping them promise to put on one of the most brutal fights in recent years.
The pair clash in the big domestic showdown on Saturday 22nd September at the SECC in Glasgow, live and exclusive on the home of TV boxing BoxNation (Sky Ch. 437/Virgin Ch. 546).
Two-time and two-weight world champion Burns will put friendship aside and be ruthless in the fight, “Come fight night once we step into the ring the friendship is over, this is business time,” he said.
Cockney scrapper Mitchell is looking to finally win the world title and is confident he can beat his friend, “You can’t beat Ricky’s personality, he’s a lovely man and a mate of mine. We genuinely get on well and there won’t be any trash talking. But once we get in the ring we fight, that’s our job. I’ve wanted this fight for a long time now and Ricky has given me the chance. I’m determined to win it, but I know I’m in for a hard night’s work.”
Here are some more boxers who have put fighting before friendship:
JOE CALZAGHE v RICHIE WOODHALL (WBO World Super-Middleweight title)
In the build up to their ‘Battle of Britain’ in December 2000, Joe Calzaghe and Richie Woodhall stopped off for a cup of tea at a motorway service station in-between press conferences. The fight was made harder as their fathers and trainers Enzo and Len were also good friends. That didn’t stop WBO World Super-Middleweight Champion Calzaghe putting on a vicious performance to stop Woodhall in the 10th round of an exciting battle at the Sheffield Arena.
PAUL SMITH v JAMES DeGALE (British Super-Middleweight title)
Then British Super-Middleweight Champion Paul Smith and challenger James DeGale had a tough meeting in December 2010 at the Liverpool Echo Arena. James was friends with Paul, but was best friends with his younger brother Stephen as they were in the England amateur squad and often stayed at each other’s houses. DeGale said at the time “It is a nutty fight because of how close I am with his family and a horrible fight to take, but this is business.” In the end friendship was put aside as the two went to war and DeGale stopped Smith in the ninth round to take the British title.
KEVIN MITCHELL v JOHN MURRAY (WBO Intercontinental Lightweight title)
Before Kevin Mitchell’s mouthwatering domestic lightweight clash with rival John Murray in July last year, he said that he and Murray were good mates from their amateur days and came close to fighting then. They eventually met as pros at the Liverpool Echo Arena with Mitchell putting on his best ever performance to stop the previously unbeaten Murray in the eighth round to win the WBO Intercontinental Lightweight title.
FRANKIE TAYLOR v PHIL LUNDGREN (British Featherweight title eliminator)
Frankie Taylor and Phil Lundgren were amateur team mates and also room mates for many years. They fought as professionals in March 1964 in an eliminator for the British Featherweight title at London’s Royal Albert Hall. Before they touched gloves in their fight, Taylor famously said to Lundgren, “Good luck Phil, you and I may be mates, but I’m going to kick the shit out out if you.” Taylor won on points over twelve rounds.
JAMEEL McCLINE v CHRIS BYRD (IBF World Heavyweight title)
Chris Byrd and Jameel McCline were very close friends, their wives were even closer and the two families often had dinners together and went away on holidays and weekends with their kids. Before the two clashed in November 2004, McCline said, “As far as the whole friendship thing, I really think he is like family, but I am tired of hearing about it. He has what I want, and I am going to get it.”. Byrd, then the IBF World Champion, added, “We couldn’t get out of fighting each other. Either he would’ve gotten stripped of his position, or I would’ve been stripped of my title if we didn’t fight. It’s kind of crazy, but that’s how it is.” In the fight, McCline dropped Byrd in the second round, but Byrd clawed back to win on points.
Burns v Mitchell will be televised live and exclusive on BoxNation (Sky Ch. 437/Virgin Ch. 546). Join now at www.boxnation.com
Tickets, priced at £50, £75, £100, £150 and £200, are available from Eventim on 0844 249 1000 or online at eventim.co.uk and Ticket Soup on 0844 295 4000 or ticketSOUP.com