Kevin Mitchell looked sharp as he beat Karim El Ouazghari at the ExCel Arena
By Adam Norman: Twitter @SkySportsNorm. Last Updated: 15/12/13 7:28am
Kevin Mitchell connects with a left jab early in his fight with the game Karim El Ouazghari (Pic Lawrence Lustig)
Kevin Mitchell remained on course for a potential world title shot in 2014 after stopping Karim El Ouazghari at the ExCel Arena in London.
Mitchell, having his third fight in five months, is back in love with boxing after a period of inactivity following two unsuccessful world title challenges.
Defending his IBF inter-continental strap, late replacement El Ouazghari was not expected to cause too many problems but he proved a durable opponent who came with ambitions of his own.
Mitchell bossed the fight behind a rapid left jab and was happy to allow his opponent to take the centre of the ring as he nipped in and out of range.
The Dagenham lightweight started to show his full repertoire although his opponent did have his successes, catching the home favourite with digs off the left hand and overhand rights.
But they carried little danger and Mitchell's stylish work marked him down as a class above. And while El Ouazghari walked forward seemingly undeterred he merely left himself open to Mitchell combinations.
The end came suddenly and surprisingly in the ninth though - a fine uppercut had the Spaniard in some trouble but he emerged from the clinch claiming an arm injury and, failing to defend himself, allowed Mitchell to land three heavy blows that forced the stoppage.
"I think my shots took their toll in the end," he told Sky Sports afterwards. "I never mean to hurt anyone. I just let my shots go and I'm in there to finish him off, not let him recover.
"I feel better than ever - Tony Sims has got me in unbelievable shape and I'm back in love with the sport - I was out of love with it for a few years."
Earlier, Jamie McDonnell had a harder fight than expected when he beat Abigail Medina of Spain by a tally of 78-75.
The Doncaster man, still reeling from having his IBF title taken from him by the sanctioning body last month, faced a live challenger in an eight-round 'keep-busy' fight.
Medina brought a 9-2 record and matched McDonnell in the opener, displaying a sharp jab and was happy to double it up with a hook to the body.
McDonnell was hurt more than once by the shot but gradually found his range and as ever his workrate began to prove too much for a plucky opponent.
He enjoyed his best round in the fifth as Medina started to look dispirited but he kept McDonnell honest over the final three sessions and there were some anxious faces in the home corner at times.
Nonetheless it was a good workout for the former British, Commonwealth and European champion who will be chasing world titles again in 2014.