Mitchell hoping to hand out warning
KEVIN MITCHELL returns to the ring after almost a year out of action on Friday night, boosted by his rating as the number one challenger for WBO world super-featherweight champion Roman Martinez. British champion Mitchell looks for his 28th straight win w
KEVIN MITCHELL returns to the ring after almost a year out of action on Friday night, boosted by his rating as the number one challenger for WBO world super-featherweight champion Roman Martinez.
British champion Mitchell looks for his 28th straight win when he faces Kenyan rival John Gicharu in an eight-round non-title fight on promoter Frank Warren's bill at York Hall, Bethnal Green.
World champion Martinez, who took the crown against Mitchell's stablemate Nicky Cook at Manchester in March, is allowed one voluntary defence before facing his number one challenger and will look for an easier test than Mitchell.
But it looks likely that the British champion will get his chance before the end of 2009 and his promoter, Warren, will be leading the bidding to bring the Puerto Rican world title-holder back to Britain for the clash.
After his break from boxing and with the WBO challenge in sight, Mitchell will want to come through in style against the tough Kenyan on Friday night.
He takes his chance to shake off the ring rust in his first fight since undergoing the hand operation, which he is confident will cure a long-time knuckle problem that prevented him punching properly.
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"I can close the hand and make a proper fist now - I can tell in sparring that I am hitting much harder," insisted Mitchell.
His last fight was a fifth-round success over Colombia's former world title challenger Walter Estrada in Atlantic City, New Jersey, last June, which followed his 'Fight of the Year' British title triumph over Leeds champion Carl Johanneson at the O2 Arena in Docklands three months earlier.
Friday night's rival Gicharu should provide a reasonable comeback test after recording 12 victories in 17 bouts, winning his last two contests in Kenya following a British campaign that included a points defeat against former WBU champion Derry Matthews.
It could be a family double on the York Hall bill with younger brother Vinny Mitchell - another member of trainer Paul Cook's successful stable - looking for his ninth straight pro victory against Dewsbury-based Syrian opponent Youssef Al Hamidi in a four-round contest.
The Frank Warren promotion is headed by Nathan Cleverly's Commonwealth light-heavyweight title defence against Sheffield challenger Billy Boyle.
North London heavyweight Derek Chisora, pressing for a British title chance against Brixton Bomber Danny Williams, is also in action along with unbeaten featherweight Stephen Smith and the Walsh brothers from Norfolk - Liam, Michael and Ryan.