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Mitchell: I was never prepared for the big night at Upton Park

08:30 12 March 2015

Kevin Mitchell is beaten by Michael Katsidis at Upton Park

Kevin Mitchell is beaten by Michael Katsidis at Upton Park

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Boxer Kevin Mitchell reveals the problems he had going into his world title clash with Aussie Michael Katsidis

Carl Johanneson picks himself up from the floor after being knocked down by Kevin Mitchell during their British Super-Featherweight Championship bout at the O2 in London.Carl Johanneson picks himself up from the floor after being knocked down by Kevin Mitchell during their British Super-Featherweight Championship bout at the O2 in London.

It was the biggest fight of Kevin Mitchell’s career. The West Ham fan was fighting at his beloved Upton Park in front of 24,000 fans and he was on the point of world stardom.

But as the fighter revealed, it had already gone horribly wrong.

“Going into the Michael Katsidis fight I was splitting up with my missus,” he revealed.

“Family lifestyle was the problem. I was hardly going to the gym, drinking down the pub, getting in trouble, yet it was the biggest fight I had ever had.

Kevin Mitchell (left) in action against Mikheil Avakyan during their Lightweight bout at the Echo Arena Liverpool.Kevin Mitchell (left) in action against Mikheil Avakyan during their Lightweight bout at the Echo Arena Liverpool.

“I was 25, I was hot-headed. You can’t stop it when it is going wrong, it just has to take its own course and that is how it went.

“I should have just pulled the show, but it was a dream come true for me.”

Aussie Katsidis stopped Mitchell inside three rounds back in 2010, but aside from his bad preparation, he had also an injury going into it.

“He didn’t chin me,” he insisted, his pride pricked. “I had a muscle in my right eye split in the Breidis Prescott fight which gave me double vision. At the time I went down to Moorfield Eye hospital and they explained to me that it would heal itself and it did, but you can’t get punched on it as it would split.

CARPEDIEM 4-10-13
O2 ARENA,LONDON
PIC;LAWRENCE LUSTIG
IBF INTERCONTINENTAL LIGHTWEIGHT TITLE
KEVIN MITCHELL V MARCO LOPEZ
MITCHELL WINSCARPEDIEM 4-10-13 O2 ARENA,LONDON PIC;LAWRENCE LUSTIG IBF INTERCONTINENTAL LIGHTWEIGHT TITLE KEVIN MITCHELL V MARCO LOPEZ MITCHELL WINS

“It did and when you get double vision, your balance goes so when he clipped me, he split the muscle and I was all over the place.”

It was Mitchell’s big chance gone. After a successful amateur career, which saw him win the ABA featherweight title at 18, as well as 31 successful pro fights, his big chance to be the champion had gone in less than 10 minutes.

“I was too immature,” he admitted. “If I had won that night I would have been too immature to be champion, but if I won it now I could handle it and I would keep it. There wouldn’t be anyone taking it off me now.

“The only one who could give me a good fight now is Terence Crawford, but he has now moved up to light-welter.”

Mitchell training schedule

MONDAY: Hour run in the morning

Gym session for two and a half hours in the afternoon

Evening off

TUESDAY: Early morning track work, sled drag sprints, hill sprints

Sleep in the gym

Afternoon gym session

Evening weight circuit

WEDNESDAY: One gym session

THURSDAY: Early morning track work, sled drag sprints, hill sprints

Sleep in the gym

Afternoon gym session

Evening weight circuit

FRIDAY: Hour run in the morning

Gym session for two and a half hours in the afternoon

SATURDAY: One hour run

SUNDAY: Day off to get ready for another week of pain!

Mitchell had been building up to that moment since he was a boy.

His father bought him a pair of gloves and as the two of them watched the likes of Nigel Benn, Chris Eubank and Frank Bruno on the telly, Kevin would spar along.

He constructed a ring in his front garden and had fights with his friends until it became clear that his left hook was too destructive.

He seemed to have learned the ropes there because he was persuaded to go down to the Hornchurch and Elm Park gym where he remained unbeaten, before moving on to Dagenham and then to the West Ham club.

“At West Ham I met a guy called Micky May, a legend in the sport, who died recently. They asked me to carry his coffin, I was really honoured to do that.

“I also met a guy called Frankie Sims, an old east end guy who had been in trouble in the past.

“Little did I know, he had been in prison for years and he had just got out and I had been cheeky to him.

“He introduced me to Tony Sims who is my trainer now, so Micky trained me at night and Tony in the mornings, so I was training twice a day as a 15-year-old.

“Those two turned me from a kid into a man at the age of 15.”

After becoming ABA champion and deciding that the Olympics was not for him, he was approached by promoter Frank Warren, who turned his head.

“I met him and he was very charming, he flew me to Portugal,” he added. “It was funny. On the Thursday I borrowed some money off my mum to get a chip roll for 80p and a 50p Dr Pepper.

“By Saturday I had 10 grand cash, I was earning £300 a month, £5,000 a fight, I bought a brand new Fiesta for my mum, a Focus for me and a Porsche convertible – the insurance was 12 grand!

“Back then I was stupid. We never had any money, it was the worst thing I could have done.”

The wins kept coming, including a brutal British title success over Carl Johanneson where he suffered a broken jaw and a broken hand.

He stepped up a weight and was still unbeaten when he came into the Katsidis fight and it was then Mitchell went off the rails.

“I had 15 months off, I went on the rampage for nine months, blew all my money, didn’t go near the gym, but then I went back and I said to Frank Warren ‘I want John Murray’, the bloke with a long unbeaten record.”

He stopped Murray in the eighth round with a stunning performance, but wrangles over getting a visa for the States meant it was Murray who got the title fight.

“I beat Murray and they then said I can’t go to the States because you have an offensive weapon on your charge sheet. I went to see Bill Ives who sorted it out so I could go to the States, it cost about £15,000, but it meant I could go out there.

“But then they offered me a fight at Madison Square Garden to fight Brandon Rios for the title, but they offered me just $40,000 so I turned it down and Murray fought him instead.

“How does Murray get knocked out by me and yet still get the world title fight?”

Mitchell’s partnership with Frank Warren was nearly over, but he was offered another title fight, either a rematch with Katsidis or a clash with Ricky Burns for the WBO lightweight title back in 2012.

“I had a chance to fight Katsidis or Ricky Burns so I opted for Burns because he doesn’t punch. I spar with him all the time now and he can’t punch,” said Mitchell, who was left on the sidelines again for almost a year as the fight could not be agreed.

“It was another nine months back on the drink and they offered me that fight again because they knew I needed the money, and I got stopped by him in the 12th round.”

The change of promoter to Eddie Hearn and his return to Tony Sims as his trainer has turned things round again for him. He has won six fights since that Burns defeat, winning five by stoppage though there was one blip when he fought against Ghislain Maduma at Wembley Stadium last May.

Mitchell inexplicably failed the weight after eating a steak the night before..

“It was an IBF fight which I never did before. It was a complete mess up by me and Tony. We had the weigh in but with the IBF you get weighed again on the day of the fight which we totally forgot about it.

“The thing is, I had a steak the night before. I weren’t really hungry, but I was eating it for the sake of it, and I came in a pound and a half heavy. I would have been fine had it not been for that steak.

“You are allowed to put on 10 and a half pounds and it is all fluid. I can walk around 11 stone three and I go down to nine stone nine.”

Making the weight is always a tough process for every fighter and Mitchell asserts that no boxer should tell you any different.

“It is hard. People ask me how it is doing that and it is a stupid question because it is hard, of course it is hard to go down a weight. All fighters think the same.

“I am on a strict diet, It is a lot of running, but I have got Gyms Kitchen who do my food, they are one of my sponsors. My diet programme is all set up, the times I have to eat. It is all right.

“I have three meals and a couple of snacks a day. Little meals, fish and carbs mainly.”

Hopefully that will be the formula for it to be third time lucky for Mitchell to take the world title.

NEXT: Mitchell ready for that world title shot.

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