INTERESTING fight this weekend sees Dagenham’s talented but erratic Kevin Mitchell take on Daniel Estrada in a lightweight battle atop the Matchroom promotion at London’s O2 Arena.
Mitchell has twice failed in high-level tests, against Michael Katsidis and Ricky Burns. Estrada is from Mexico and his entourage contains none other than Juan Manuel Marquez, so we know for sure that he’ll be getting good advice – whether he can act on it will be another matter.
The survivor of Mitchell-Estrada should be well positioned for a world title crack in the summer, which is where things get interesting, because at world level the 135lbs division is in a state of flux. Undoubted top man is Terence Crawford, but the WBO champion has already announced that his next fight, planned for April 18, will be up at light-welter (140lbs).
Meanwhile there has been talk that WBC belt-holder Jorge “Golden Boy” Linares of Venezuela may defend against Yuriorkis Gamboa, possibly as early as March. Cuba’s Gamboa revived his flagging career last year when he his speed and movement troubled Crawford for four rounds before the American got on top and stopped him in the ninth. Linares is a stylish boxer who can punch but he has been found wanting in the chin department, and when being put under heavy pressure. A Linares-Gamboa fight could go either way.
Over with the IBF, Floyd Mayweather-promoted Mickey Bey took the title from Miguel Vazquez last year in a fight that experienced boxing observers called one of the most boring ever. Bey is yet to defend, and don’t expect a stampede to the box office when he does.
All of which leaves Mitchell in a good position if he can get past Estrada. If he can’t secure a crack at Linares, he might contest the vacant WBO belt, assuming Crawford relinquishes to pursue big fights at higher weights.
And what price an all-British showdown with Derry Mathews somewhere down the line? The Scouser challenges WBA champion Richard Abril in March, as a replacement for the unfortunate Anthony Crolla, seriously injured when tackling burglars at a neighbour’s house.
Mathews starts a heavy underdog against the slippery Abril, but anything can happen in a boxing ring and it’s not impossible that two Brits might hold a lightweight belt by the middle of 2015. Then Eddie Hearn, who promotes Mitchell, would have to sit down with rival Frank Warren, who stages Mathews-Abril, to thrash out a deal – but now even Bob Arum and Oscar De La Hoya are doing business once again, who’s to say it won’t happen?