THEY may be friends but British lightweight sensations RICKY BURNS and KEVIN MITCHELL will toss their friendship aside when Burns defends his WBO crown on September 22nd at the SECC in Glasgow.
The fight has been simmering for a number of months now and it was predicted that the showdown between the two would take place on the undercard of David Haye’s bout with Dereck Chisora on July 14 at Upton Park, home of Mitchell’s beloved West Ham United.
However, Burns did not believe he would be able to make the weight in time after returning from his wedding in Cancun.
After losing his unbeaten record to Michael Katsidis in May 2010, the same man Burns dethroned last November, Mitchell went on a path of self-destruction and was arrested on suspicion of possesing cocaine and running a cannabis farm with his mother.
However, Mitchell bounced back from his crushing defeat to the hardened Aussie to put the first blemish on John Murray’s record with a sensational performance in July 2011.
Coatbridge crusader Burns, 29 and Essex boy Mitchell, 27, were once sparring partners and keep in touch through Twitter and online gaming. However, Mitchell admitted at the official press conference in London on Monday that the respect and friendship they have will simply be forgotten about when the bell sounds.
Mitchell said: “You can’t beat Ricky’s personality, he’s a lovely man and a mate of mine.
“That doesn’t make it harder in the ring, but it makes it harder when you’re promoting the fight.
“We genuinely get on well and there wont 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.
“He was beaten earlier in his career but that can happen to anyone. He’s really come on so much since then.
“This is my last title chance. I’m going to beat myself into shape to prepare for it properly.
“It will be a good night. I’ll be bringing about 3,000 fans.”
Burns, who will continue to work in his part-time job at a DW Sports store in Coatbridge, revealed that neither being world champion nor marriage has changed his life.
“I don’t see myself as a world champion until I step inside those ropes,” said Burns.
“Come fight night once we step into the ring the friendship is over, this is business time.
“Kevin has had his problems outside the ring. He’s got back on the straight and narrow and he’s looking forward to fighting me now but there is now way that belt is leaving Scotland.”