By Tom Gray at Ringside
Ricky Burns retained his WBO Super Featherweight Title when he stopped London’s Nicky Cook in one round of a bizarre encounter at the Echo Arena in Liverpool on Saturday night.
The Scot connected on a shot to the body and Cook crumpled in agony, signalling that his back had let him down. The referee gave the challenger a standing eight count but his reprieve was short lived when he went down once more, of his volition.
Burns, who looked physically imposing at 130lbs, needed no second invitation as he butchered the former champion’s body with massive right hands that echoed around ringside. The challenger rose but it was bulldog versus kitten as the towel floated in unceremoniously. Cook was taken out of the ring on a stretcher, clearly distraught.
Burns received a nice ovation from the Liverpool crowd but Cook should never have been in the ring. The challenger had spoken openly about a back ailment during the build up, referring to it as a “deteriorating” condition which he compared to “sciatica”.
The ending was unpleasant and eerily reminiscent of Vitali Klitschko’s one round farce against Odlanier Solis in March. If Ricky Burns is going to travel, then let’s make sure there is a fight waiting for him when he gets to his destination. He had three words for this reporter as he left the ring; "I am raging!"
Burns is now 32-2 (9 KO’s) and Cook, who has surely come to the end, falls to 30-3 (16 KO’s).
Kevin Mitchell produced a career best performance to stop John Murray in eight rounds to win the vacant WBO Intercontintal lightweight title . The fight was arguably the finest contested between two British fighters since Michael Gomez crushed Alex Arthur in 2003.
The first round saw both men get down to business with high contact exchanges. Mitchell used the ring and let go with powerful combinations, frequently ending his salvos with devastating left uppercuts which blasted through the guard.
Mitchell, who had been inactive for over a year, appeared shocked in the second by a typically vicious Murray assault. He was pinned against the ropes and the Manchester brawler connected with a big right hand, followed by punishing barrages to the body.
Murray, who has based his reputation on taking the incoming and firing back, was in that very same mode once again. Mitchell was expending large amounts of energy to create space and when he did release punches the champion was walking straight through him. Mitchell bravely closed the round with a sparkling flurry of shots to the head.
This reporter noted “great fight” as early as round four as both men seemed determined to test the other to the limit. Murray was devastating on the inside, although the Londoner was moving his head well to avoid the worst of it. Mitchell, when he had the space, was effective at mid range and on the outside as the damage mounted on both sides.
The relentless pace continued in the fifth as both men traded evenly with world class combination work. Murray emerged from one such exchange with a cut under his right eye which was undoubtedly caused by violent left uppercuts. The action at this point was ferocious and souls were being bared for all to see.
Mitchell was fighting out of his skin by the midway point and his opponent seemed to lack the imagination or talent to change the flow. Kevin stayed at ring centre, displayed excellent defence and landed every punch in the book as Murray walked into a windmill, his features deteriorating under heavy fire.
It was artistry by Mitchell in round seven as he timed Murray coming in with a steady and powerful left lead. Murray’s face was a mess and Mitchell was now firmly in command as yet another rocket left uppercut landed flush. Murray backed off, a clear indication that he was ready to be taken, as the bell sounded ending the round.
Mitchell was in pole position coming out for the eighth round and he knew the end was in sight. He battered Murray with spectacular combinations and then let go with a monster left look which floored the champion. Murray, showing immense bravery, rose to face the inevitable and the referee intervened after a solid follow up assault.
Kevin Mitchell has proven his point in fine style. He conditioned himself both physically and mentally, conquered ring rust and produced a display that was simply breath taking. He improves to 32-1 (24 KO’s) while John Murray suffers his first loss and falls to 31-1 (18 KO’s). Both warriors did wonders for the sport and produced a candidate for fight of the year.