Kevin Mitchell has announced his retirement from boxing. The Dagenham fans’ favorite brings down the curtain on an entertaining 43-fight career, landing multiple titles from his 39 wins having turned over in 2013 after winning a senior-level ABA title at 18 years of age.
The 31 year old held the British and Commonwealth titles at Super-Featherweight before moving to Lightweight where he landed a trio of World title shots. Mitchell hosted Michael Katsidis in May 2010 for the WBO Interim title at the home of his beloved West Ham United, headed to Glasgow to challenge Ricky Burns in a ferocious four-round shoot-out for the Scotsman’s WBO crown in September 2012 and severely tested WBC king Jorge Linares for his title in a classic encounter at The O2 in November 2015.
Agonizingly for Mitchell, he was unable to get his hands on those belts, but fans will remember his classic battles with Breidis Prescott, John Murray and Daniel Estrada among many highlights from his 22-years with the gloves on.
“I was in the gym training for the Edis Tatli fight and I just didn’t really feel that I have enough to go through the training once again,” said Mitchell. “I’ve been fighting for 22 years, it is a long time to be putting your body through all you have to do to get right for a fight and my body has said ‘enough is enough.’
“I’ve had so many highlights but walking out at The O2 for the Linares fight and hearing the fans cheering for me and seeing ‘Forever Blowing Bubbles’ was just an unbelievable feeling. I’ve always been close to the fight fans both in Britain and around the world, and I want to thank them for all their love and support.
“I like to think I was an exciting fighter that gave the fans value for money. I don’t think they make fighters like me anymore; fighters that put it all on the line every time they fight.”
Mitchell says he wants to give something back to the sport he loves, and that has started straight away as he has begun working with his trainer Tony Sims in his Essex gym as he trains a talented group of young fighters.
“I can’t wait to get my hands dirty working with Tony,” said Mitchell. “Tony is an amazing man to be around and a bit like me, he’s been through his ups and downs and made a great life. The gym is buzzing with some top talent and I am going to be helping him out and looking to pass on my experience.”
Mitchell’s promoter Eddie Hearn paid tribute to the popular Londoner.
“It’s been an absolute pleasure working with Kevin Mitchell over the past few years,” said Hearn. “The fight against Linares was the stand out for me and without injury I believe Kevin would have become World Champion that night. Kevin has been entirely dedicated to the sport under Tony Sims, my only regret is that we didn’t all team up earlier in his career.
“Kevin is one the biggest and brightest characters in the gym and has already played a huge part in the education and motivation of some of our younger fighters. He has a wonderful boxing brain and I truly believe he can go on to be a great coach if that’s the path he wishes to take. He has been a wonderful servant to British boxing and I’m sure all fight fans will join me in wishing him the best and happiness in his retirement.”
Elsewhere in the British boxing world…
Ovill McKenzie will challenge Dmytro Kucher for the Vacant European Cruiserweight title after Queensberry Promotions today won the purse bid to stage the fight.
It’s a big return for the hard-hitting Derby based Jamaican who just missed out on claiming a world title when he pushed IBF ruler Victor Emilio Ramirez to a controversial draw in Argentina last October.
Kucher, from Kiev, Ukraine, has an explosive record of 17 knockouts from 23 wins with only one points loss and draw and has previously held the WBC International Silver Cruiserweight title. This will be his second shot at the European title after he drew against Bilal Laggoune last October for the vacant title.
McKenzie, 36, has previously won a Commonwealth title at light-heavyweight and Commonwealth and British title at cruiserweight, is excited to challenge for the European crown for the first time and sees it as a significant step back onto the world title stage.
“I’m delighted that Queensberry Promotions won the purse bid today and that I’ll be fighting for the prized European title for the first. This a fantastic fight to return back into after the disappointment in Argentina when I should have been crowned world champion. However, that’s in the past and now I want that beautiful European belt around my waist and then look at the world title again. Kucher looks dangerous, but he doesn’t have the experience I have and that will be crucial in this fight.” Said Kucher.
A date and venue for the fight will be announced shortly.
Tom Baker vs. Jack Morris
Undefeated Tom Baker aims to capture his first title at light-heavyweight when he challenges Jack Morris for the Vacant English crown on Friday March 26th at the York Hall, Bethnal Green.
The Chingford star, a former Southern Area Super-Middleweight Champion, stepped up to 175 pounds in his last fight when he outpointed Darren Cruise over ten rounds in July and is now intent on making his mark in the division starting with Morris.
“Morris has got a decent record and I know he’ll put up a good fight. He’s strong and comes forward which will suit me down to the ground. I feel much more comfortable at light-heavyweight and the confidence is flowing. I fancy stopping him late because he’ll eventually walk onto a big one.” Said Baker.
“This is the start of a big year for me in the division and I’d like to have that British title by the end of the year. Miles Shinkwin and Hosea Burton fight for the British title later this month, it will be interesting to see who emerges the winner, but I’d be comfortable beating either of those,”
“Right now I’m fully focused on Morris and I’m not taking my eye off the ball against him as I’ve seen upsets happen, so I’m taking no chances and making sure I do the business against him.”
Margate warrior Morris, who holds a record of 14 wins, two losses and one draw, has previously challenged for the Southern Area Cruiserweight title when he extended Lawrence Bennett in March 2014, only to lose on the judges scorecards.
Morris said, “As a fighter I respect Tom and his team massively, but they can only go by what they have seen on me and trust me a whole new different fighter will be turning up. Size will play a part and he will either get knocked out or his team will pull him out and save him for another day. For the first time in my boxing career I’m full time training.”
On the undercard, some of the best young prospects continue in their careers: unbeaten light-welterweight ace Romeo Romaeo takes on Prague’s Michal Dufek over eight rounds; Chingford super-featherweight Boy Jones Jnr and Dagenham lightweight Ediz Hussein, both in separate six rounders; West Ham super-welterweight Sammy McNess, Ilford light-heavyweight Anthony Yarde; Welling lightweight Archie Sharp; Chelmsford super-middleweight Billy Long and Sidcup super-featherweight D.P Carr, all compete over four rounds.