How’s training going?
It’s been a long time since I’ve really enjoyed it. I’m enjoying myself. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a killer and it’s hard. I hate how hard it is, it’s so hard but I’m enjoying myself again… I’ve got a good team.
How big for you is the fight coming up this weekend?
It’s my life. It is my life. It’s my kids’ life as well. Beat him, I’ve got a shot for the world title and there’s a good chance I can beat the champion as well, [Jorge] Linares. He’s been stopped three times. He’s a full [WBC] champion but he’s beatable. I fancy winning. When I’m in top form, like I am now, 100 percent I can win.
Have you seen much of Daniel Estrada?
Yes, he’s a game, gutsy kid, fights going forward, fights going back… But we’ll get hold of him. We’ll see what he’s like when we get in there.
In your last fight, at Wembley, how tough was Ghislain Maduma?
He was the best kid I’ve been in the ring with, even the ones I’ve lost, 100 percent. He had fast hands, good boxing brain, he could punch hard. I was physically ready for him. In great shape, I had a great game plan set out and I was ready. I’d sparred solidly for ages for it.
We expected to stop it late like that. We were thinking about eight onwards, we didn’t think as late as 11.
What went wrong with your check weigh in? [Mitchell was over the limit for the check weigh in so the bout was not an IBF title eliminator for him.]
It was my fault… I never normally put on that sort of weight anyway. It was only a pound and half over, it wasn’t loads, but it was still a pound and a half over the limit. The IBF said he’s got two hours to get it off. The Board of Control said he’s not allowed to get the weight off. A pound and a half, I’d have toileted that out in the two hours. I was hydrated, [had] my food. These things happen, I got the job done, knocked him out. [Miguel] Vazquez [the IBF champion] didn’t want to fight me. We offered him a good offer to fight over there. He took [Mickey] Bey, he got beat.
Was it a major setback?
It pissed me off really because I wanted my shot. I’m hungry for it now, you can tell I am. I got the hump with the sport again. I threw my dummy out the pram. Barry [Hearn] got me in the office, gave me a bollocking, told me to buck my ideas up – ‘We want the new Kevin Mitchell back. We want him back how he used to be as a kid.’ Back in I went, worked away and here we are. It’s good.
How do you feel about being the star of the show at the O2? [Anthony Joshua withdrew with an injured back and Mitchell now headlines.]
It doesn’t bother me. I’ve been in big shows before and I weren’t prepared for them and I still went and done them. Now I’m prepared. When your preparation’s been hard and you’re working hard, I don’t have any worries. I’ll just go out there and enjoy it and do my job. Once the entrance is done, I’m in there to go to work.
Do you feel you’re getting back the buzz you had earlier in your career?
The atmosphere of it all, the happiness of it all, the enjoyment of it all. Coming to the gym not thinking about financial problems. Now I’m happy, I’m buzzing.
I think the supporters are going to be happy with what I’m doing. I think the West Ham fans are all coming back.
Have you found it easy to shrug off your past losses?
The losses happened. You’ve got to think, before I fought [Michael] Katsidis I was basically a raving alcoholic. I was out clubbing. I’d just split up with my baby’s mum. I felt I settled down too young. I was hardly seeing my kids.
I was out on the piss all the time. I went out, fought Katsidis, got beat. I was hardly in the gym. You can ask Jimmy Tibbs, I wasn’t doing too great in the gym. I went and got beat.
Eight months I’d been out the ring [before the Ricky Burns fight was made], I was drinking, boozing.
I’ve matured now. I’ve learned from a lot of stuff, mistakes.
I learned the hard way. I got beat in front of a lot of people. I got embarrassed. I learned the hard way.