Last Updated: 01/06/14 1:09am
Kevin Mitchell: Staged thrilling late fighback
Kevin Mitchell kept his world title hopes alive with a thrilling stoppage win over Ghislain Maduma.
Mitchell was second-best for spells in the fight, repeatedly troubled by Maduma's speed and strength, and trailed on the scorecards when he turned it around with an 11th round assault.
A barrage of punches forced Maduma to take a count and he was rescued by the referee Phil Edwards after Mitchell piled on more punishment. It remains to be seen if he will be awarded an IBF lightweight title shot after winning this final eliminator, but victory had kept his career on a high.
Maduma had displayed his hand speed in a cagey opening round, landing sharp lefts on Mitchell, who probed with range finding jabs.
"I could have done 15 or 20 rounds with him - it was only going to get more vicious."
This hesitancy from Mitchell continued in the second as he stuck out single shots, but Maduma showed his confidence with sharp combinations.
The Londoner struggled to repel Maduma's searing punches, taking hurtful hooks in the third, while he was bullied to the ropes by a determined opponent in the fifth.
Mitchell finally warmed to the task in the next stanza, slipping out of range with clever footwork and catching Maduma with crisp counters.
Just as Mitchell gained a foothold, Maduma made his mark in the sixth, wobbling his man with a hook followed by a crunching right hand.
But this was a brief scare as Mitchell controlled the seventh, making the man from Montreal miss and picking apart his defences.
Maduma's cocky strut had long since disappeared and he looked crude in the eighth, missing wildly as the Englishman jabbed away.
But Mitchell's dominance would not last as he was stung by hooks in the ninth, with worse to follow in the 10th when two further hooks wobbled the Dagenham man.
With the fight drifting away from him, Mitchell staged a decisive attack in the 11th, landing a sharp left which sent Maduma stumbling backwards. His legs deserted him and referee Edwards registered a count as he sagged into the ropes.
This would prove a brief reprieve and Mitchell floored his man again with a left hand, prompting Edwards to wave the fight off.
Mitchell had failed a check weigh-in on the morning of the fight, casting doubt on whether he would be granted a shot at IBF champion Miguel Vazquez, but promoter Eddie Hearn still hoped to arrange the clash.
"We knew he was going to be a fast starter, we knew he was going to work hard and that perhaps he was going to get the better of me in the early rounds," Mitchell told Sky Sport Box Office.
"He was eager to impress but I'm a little bit more experienced; I knew to keep with him. I could have done 15 or 20 rounds with him - it was only going to get more vicious."
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