Kevin Mitchell will wait to find out if he will get a lightweight world title shot after he defeated Ghislain Maduma in a thrilling IBF eliminator on Saturday.
After struggling in the opening stages, Mitchell finished strongly at Wembley Stadium, eventually knocking down Maduma for the second time in the 11th round for the TKO finish. The Canadian fighter was perhaps ahead on the judges' scorecards at the time.
The victory would usually guarantee Mitchell a title shot against current IBF champion Miguel Vazquez. However, the East Londoner failed to make weight on Saturday morning, which threw that arrangement into doubt.
Nevertheless, his promoter Eddie Hearn is confident the fight will be made.
"He missed the weight this morning," Hearn confirmed to Sky Sports. "We’ll speak to the IBF...but I think we can make the fight with Vazquez anyway.
"He [Mitchell] kept his career alive tonight."
The 29-year-old looked subdued in the early rounds and seemed to be troubled by Maduma's movement and speed, but he insisted that was all part of his game plan after he secured the crucial victory.
"We knew he was going to be a fast starter and get the better of me in the early rounds," he said. "But I’m a little bit more experienced, I kept with him and then put the pressure on him.
"There was only a matter of time before I got hold of him. I could have gone 15 or 20 rounds to be honest."
The third fight of the night at Wembley, it was a far more absorbing contest than the two before it. Mitchell had the overwhelming home support, but it was Maduma who made the early running, using the small ring to his advantage as he landed a number of good shots on his more experienced opponent.
Mitchell seemed to be caught by surprise, hardly making an impression in the first five rounds as Maduma looked impressive. But as the fight entered its second half, the momentum switched, with Mitchell suddenly taking the initiative. He evaded Maduma's tired flurries with relative ease and picked him off with precise counterpunching.
That pattern continued into the 10th round, bringing Mitchell back on terms on the judges' scorecards. Yet suddenly, from nowhere, Maduma found a second wind—stunning Mitchell with one particularly flush shot as the Englishman was forced on the defensive once again.
That exertion perhaps cost more than it gained, however, as the 11th round would prove decisive. Mitchell, still with plenty in the tank, whaled down on his opponent, with Maduma surviving an eight count after using the ropes to hold him up.
But the Kinshasa-born fighter clearly seemed to be struggling to keep his legs under him. Mitchell unloaded a vicious body shot that finally and emphatically ended the bout.
"He was all over the place for the whole round," Mitchell said. "It was only going to get more vicious."
It remains to be seen whether the performance will be enough to deliver him a world title fight, but he believes he is ready.
"I’m coming on bundles," he added.
All quotes taken from Sky Box Office's live broadcast.
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