RICKY BURNS silenced his doubters yet again with a stunning fourth round stoppage of Kevin Mitchell to retain his WBO lightweight title in front of a jam-packed crowd inside the SECC in Glasgow.
The 29-year-old Scot knew that the much-anticipated “Battle of Britain” bout with Essex boy Mitchell would be the toughest of his career and could determine whether or not he has what it takes to be the very best in the division.
However, Burns rose to the occasion with an unbelievable ferocity, spurred on by a rapturous 10,000 strong crowd and galvanised by the introductions of legendary ring announcer Michael Buffer.
The opening round was traditionally cagey as the fighters tried to set the pace of the fight. However, both champion and challenger burst into life in the last 30 seconds of the round with Mitchell being caught with a slick right hand from Burns despite connecting with a stiff body shot of his own.
Burns began to assert his authority in the second as he rocked Mitchell with a crushing right hook to the jaw.
Mitchell, who was wearing shorts emblazoned with a St George’s cross, was clearly shaken and continued to take more punishment from the champion in the third. However, Mitchell taunted Burns by beating his chest and encouraging the Coatbridge man to beat him some more.
Mitchell’s toughness and heart could not be questioned as he continued to take a pounding, with Burns managing to land six hard shots without any reply.
Going into the fight many fans and pundits predicted that Mitchell’s left hook could be a major factor in the fight and he managed to utilise it in the fourth. However, Burns quickly disposed of the Dagenham man’s threat and replied with a thunderous left hook of his own that sent Mitchell crashing to the canvas.
Mitchell bravely rose to his feet at the count of eight but it was evident that the end was nigh for the 27-year-old and was knocked down for a second time before referee Terry O’Connor had no choice but to step in and stop the bout.
Speaking to Sky Sports after the fight, Burns said: “I am absolutely delighted.”
“It was a great performance and I am really pleased at the way I finished the fight. I knew when I put Kevin down and had him on the ropes that he was struggling and I had to go for it. Now my hope is I can get a unification fight – that would be a dream come true.”
A clearly dejected but respectful Mitchell said: “Ricky did a real job on me. He showed real power and proved that he can punch.”