Now Mitchell wants world title shot

KEVIN MITCHELL remained on course for the world title challenge he hopes will come later this year with an eighth-round stoppage victory over Rudy Encarnacion at Manchester s MEN Arena on Saturday night. While the star of the show - Amir Khan - claimed hi

KEVIN MITCHELL remained on course for the world title challenge he hopes will come later this year with an eighth-round stoppage victory over Rudy Encarnacion at Manchester's MEN Arena on Saturday night.

While the star of the show - Amir Khan - claimed his WBA light-welterweight title triumph in the feature fight, undefeated Mitchell recorded his 29th straight pro success in a scheduled 10-round clash on the undercard of the show, which attracted more than 10,000 fans.

However, the British super-featherweight champion hopes that contest number 30 will bring his own world title chance, with promoter Frank Warren hoping to tempt WBO champion Roman Martinez to defend against the fighter, officially recognised as his number one contender, in London in the autumn.

With that world title chance looking likely and just eight minutes of serious boxing action in over 12 months, the British champion knew he needed the rounds to shake off the ring rust.


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"All the sparring in the gym is just not the same as actually fighting and I knew it would take me a few rounds to get into my rhythm," said former West Ham BC amateur Mitchell, a member of trainer Paul Cook's stable.

Madrid-based Encarnacion, a 30-year-old seasoned campaigner, who was a substitute for his original choice opponent, Kenyan John Gicharu, had enough experience to provide problems, but a dominant Mitchell never looked like losing a round.

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He was always in control of the exchanges and once he settled down, found the target for his trademark heavy hooks which he powered home to head and body, clearly weakening his awkward opponent.

To his credit, the brave Encarnacion soaked up the shots, but was clearly weakened and as the exchanges became more one-sided, the British champion was well ahead on Steve Grey's scorecard.

Encarnacion had not been on the floor, but was shaken up and staggering on unsteady legs, as Mitchell drove him backwards across the ring.

With less than 30 seconds remaining at the end of the eighth round, the third man decided he had seen enough and sensibly signalled the end of the contest.

After the fight, Mitchell was happy to report that he was able to punch properly with his left hand which had earlier given him problems and forced him to spend months on the sidelines for treatment.

"I was trying a few different things during the fight, but the hand felt okay," said the 24-year-old British champion, who underwent hospital surgery last year to cure his recurring knuckle trouble.

Also scoring inside the distance wins on the Saturday night MEN Arena bill were Olympians Billy Joe Saunders and James DeGale - to please their local trainers Jimmy Tibbs and Jim McDonnell.

Tibbs was happy to see Saunders stopping seasoned campaigner Matt Scriven, after just 1 minute 21 seconds of the second round.

"Scriven is a tough survivor - I did not expect Billy Joe to stop him as quickly as that," admitted respected Newham trainer Tibbs.

The 19-year-old former amateur star made it three wins from three fights since turning pro after the Beijing Olympics.

Before the end of the opening round, Saunders found the target with heavy hooks to the body that had his rival hanging on.

He continued the pressure in the second round, working the head and the body, before producing the final flourish that convinced referee Phil Edwards to step in with 1 minute 39 seconds left in the round.

Meanwhile, McDonnell insisted he was "over the moon," with the display of super-middleweight prospect and Olympic gold medal winner James DeGale.

'Golden Chunky' gave his best pro display so far, as he blasted out Belfast's Ciaran Healy at the end of the opening round at the MEN Arena promotion.

He floored his rival with a series of body shots and although Healy bravely got to his feet at the count of eight, DeGale jumped straight in with a well-timed left hand, forcing the referee to call off the fight as the bell sounded to end the round.

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