Londoner Kevin Mitchell suffered heartbreak on home soil once again as the Jorge Linares proved too strong in their world lightweight title clash.
Mitchell, 30, had previously lost out to Ricky Burns and Michael Katsidis in championship bouts, and despite a brave effort, went down to another crushing loss at the O2 Arena.
Linares started brightly to claim the opening few rounds but was stunned in the fifth as Mitchell connected to score a flash knockdown. That seemed to spur on the challenger who took the next few rounds on my card, although the harder punches of Linares were slowly taking their toll.
A massive eighth for the WBC champion saw Mitchell’s face mark up considerably, but just as Mitchell looked in danger of being stopped due to the state of his face, he gamely fought back.
By the tenth, Mitchell was in a really bad way and shipped heavy shots throughout the round. Linares piled on the pressure to make Mitchell cower in the corner and referee Victor Loughlin rightly decided enough was enough.
Where Mitchell goes now after a third loss is anyone’s guess, maybe a move to 140lbs? – But for Linares, the sky is the limit after a succesful first defense of the title.
The hardened Venezuelan could be recalled to the UK at some point in the future if Anthony Crolla can claim the WBA title when he faces Darleys Perez in the summer.
In contrast to Mitchell, Barry’s Lee Selby produced a career-best display to win his maiden world title at the first time of asking.
The 28 year-old, who is nicknamed ‘The Welsh Mayweather’ due to his flashy style, broke down and halted Evgeny Gradovich to take the hardened Russian’s IBF featherweight belt.
Selby boxed beautifully to be way ahead after seven completed rounds, and having cut Gradovich on two parts of his face, was well on his way to victory into the second half of the contest.
As the challenger continued to impress in the eighth, referee Deon Dwarte decided to ask the ringside doctor to inspect the slices on Gradovich’s face who proceeded to inform the official to stop the fight.
The scorecards were then totalled to give Selby the verdict 80-72 and 79-73 twice on the cards via a technical decision.
It was a masterful performance from Briton Selby, who puts himself firmly up with the best in the division and in line for unifications with Vasyl Lomachenko and Gary Russell.