Mitchell: I feel like a champion without the title, I’m up for Linares rematch in the USA

Phil Jay 04/06/2015

British lightweight star Kevin Mitchell was in philosophical mood on Wednesday when reflecting on his world title defeat to Jorge Linares. The Londoner put in an impressive performance despite not having his hand raised at the end of what turned out to be a bruising battle at the O2 Arena.

The 30 year-old was well in the fight when a grotesque eye injury hampered his vision in the tenth round and forced referee Victor Loughlin to step in and save Mitchell from further facial damage. Prior to the ailment, Mitchell had proved his world class credentials against the tough Venezuelan champion, and despite being unable to fulfil his dream for a second time, the Londoner has been praised all round for his contribution to a top quality contest.

“I’m feeling great, and I’m in a really happy mind frame at the moment, I feel like the champion but without the title around my waist,” Mitchell exclusively told World Boxing News.

Sporting several stitches and a prominent shiner, Mitchell has been taking in the plaudits all week from fans – many of whom see the encounter as the fight of the night on Saturday, and talk has now turned to the possibility of a second fight with Linares.

“I have been highly spoken about and I feel good about the fight and my performance, just not the outcome unfortunately,” he said.

“But I’m not the type of guy to moan as it just wasn’t my time. After that performance, I feel I am a massive threat to anyone in the lightweight division now and hopefully I’ll get another chance to prove it.”

Judges’ scorecards totalled through the completed nine rounds on the night read 88-82 and 86-84 to the challenger – with a third of 85-85 mimicking my own live WBN card. Mitchell believes he was justifiably ahead at the time of the stoppage though and says head clashes earlier in the fight cost him his chance to hold the coveted WBC 135lb title.

“Personally, I had myself up a round or two going into the 10th,” outlined Mitchell. I really do believe the cuts from a head collision earlier on in the fight was what gave Linares the result. Without those, I feel I could have won the fight easily by stepping up in the later rounds.

“There were no problems with my skill or fitness during the fight, just the fact I could not see, and looking back now I believe that if the fight was stopped earlier due to the cut from head collision I would be WBC champion. But like I said earlier it just wasn’t my night.”

Contact with Golden Boy over a return with Linares, which would be a voluntary defense by ‘El Nino’ and firmly on his terms, has already been made and Mitchell confirmed to WBN that he would have no problem travelling after gaining home advantage himself for the first fight.

“I know there has been talk about a rematch and potentially going over the USA, which I would be up for doing of course. But that is for my promoter Eddie Hearn to discuss at Matchroom Sport. I do believe it would be another cracking fight for the fans if it happened,” predicted Mitchell.

“If the fight doesn’t come off with Linares, I would want to fight any one of the champions out there right now as I feel like I’m a massive threat for any of them and deserve my chance after the weekend.

“I firmly believe that given another chance I will become a world champion,” he concluded.