Mitchell back and set for July sizzler

KEVIN MITCHELL is booked for his first bout in almost a year at York Hall, Bethnal Green, on May 22 - and could then take on Puerto Rican Roman Rocky Martinez for the WBO super-featherweight crown on a big summer show at the London 02 Arena in Docklands

KEVIN MITCHELL is booked for his first bout in almost a year at York Hall, Bethnal Green, on May 22 - and could then take on Puerto Rican Roman 'Rocky' Martinez for the WBO super-featherweight crown on a big summer show at the London 02 Arena in Docklands in July, writes LEN WHALEY.

Unbeaten Martinez defeated Mitchell's stablemate, Nicky Cook, at the MEN Arena in Manchester last month, scoring a fourth-round stoppage to take the world crown on a Frank Warren show.

Although needing the York Hall warm-up fight first to prove his fitness, Mitchell is convinced he can take out the 26-year-old, who was trailing in his world title clash with Cook, before he seized the chance to dramatically turn the fight his way.

"I will have an eight-round warm-up contest on the show at York Hall on May 22," Mitchell said at the weekend. "And then a world title fight in July at The 02 Arena against Roman Martinez."

A former ABA title winner at West Ham BC, Mitchell makes a point of studying films of his likely rivals and has followed the current WBO champ, as he has made his progress up the world rankings.

"I watched Martinez at home, and have kept my eye on him for a while. He's a good world champion, but I've definitely got his number," said the British champion, never lacking when it comes to confidence.

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"I will definitely be ready for the chance. I'm really flying and hitting harder and stronger than ever in the gym.

"I even think I can go on and clean up the super-featherweight division this year," added the fighter who works in the successful gym under Cook's trainer-father Paul.

The British title-holder revealed he just needs the doctors' go-ahead to continue his ring career after a 10-month break from boxing during which he underwent surgery to cure a left hand problem that has affected him since the early days of his pro career.

"I snapped the tendon in my left hand and had injections to numb the pain, but I've had the tendon sewn back in now," explained Mitchell.

The eight-round warm-up contest at York Hall will be crowd-puller Mitchell's first London outing for more than a year.

It is featured on a Frank Warren promotion that also includes British welterweight champion Kell Brook's defence against Young Mutley, and a super featherweight meeting between Anthony Crolla and Gary Sykes.

Fight fans will certainly recall the Mighty Mitch's last appearance in the capital, when he scored a ninth-round victory over Leeds title-holder Carl Johanneson at the 02 Arena last March.

That was the night he claimed the British title in a thrilling battle that has been acclaimed the best fight of 2008 by the British Boxing Board of Control.

The encounter gave Mitchell his 26th straight paid victory - and after taming the Leeds fighter, he crossed the Atlantic for his summer success, halting Colombia's former world title challenger Walter Estrada in Atlantic City.

Following that victory, hard-hitting Mitchell took time out to have the operation on his hand, which he had to rest for some time before he was able to return to full training.

He was scheduled to defend his British title against Manchester's Steve Foster junior at York Hall this month, but obviously prefers to go for the eight-rounder and the world title chance.

Now he says that after he beats world champion Martinez, he will be happy to consider his northern rival as the challenger for his first defence of the WBO crown.

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