Close call: Froch backs underdog Mitchell to upset home favourite Burns in Glasgow
16:27 GMT, 20 September 2012
Carl Froch has backed Kevin Mitchell to cause an upset in Glasgow and defeat home favourite Ricky Burns for the WBO world lightweight title this weekend.
Champion Burns stood toe-to-toe with Londoner Mitchell for the final time on Thursday before Friday's weigh-in as Saturday's eagerly-anticipated clash draws closer.
Opinion is heavily divided as to who will eventually come out on top, but IBF world super-middleweight champion Froch believes his English compatriot Mitchell can defy the odds at the SECC Arena.
Head-to-head: Challenger Kevin Mitchell stares champion Ricky Burns in the eyes as the pair gear up for their WBO world lightweight contest
'It promises to be a decent fight, very, very close,' said Froch, speaking to BoxNation, who will broadcast the bout.
'The smart money will be on Burns on points but you’ve got to get behind the English and Kevin’s a tough little f*****.
'I think he’ll stay on top of Burns with educated pressure and his power punches will see him to a late stoppage.'
World light-heavyweight champion Nathan Cleverly is backing the 29-year-old Coatbridge fighter to stop the challenger, however.
Cleverly, who also fights under the Frank Warren stable of boxers, is preparing for his comeback next month when he defends his WBO crown against Ukrainian Vyacheslav Uzelkov at Cardiff's Motopoint Arena.
His attention will be fixed on events north of the border on Saturday, where he expects Burns to come out on top.
'It’ll be a real class fight,' he said.
Man in the middle: Promoter Frank Warren is looking forward to Saturday's eagerly-awaited contest
'Kevin’s got the flair and the flash and he’ll definitely hurt Burns at some stage with those crisp, snappy bombs of his.
'But I’ll go with Burns to get behind his jab and pinch it on points from long range. He’s the more consistent, has been kept busier and has more momentum. I think that will be decisive in the later part of the fight.'
One man who is no stranger to all-British showdowns is the legendary Jim Watt and the former world lightweight king has predicted his fellow countryman Burns will walk away as the winner in a closely-fought contest.
On the line: Burns will look to retain his title
'A safe prediction is that it’ll be a good fight because both are always in good fights,' said Watt, who now expertly calls fights in his role as a TV commentator for Sky Sports.
'No doubt Kevin will try and get close, turn it into more of a brawl but Ricky’s proved how tough he is, even in those fights he lost to Alex Arthur and Carl Johanneson.
'Over the years he’s really learned to utilise his physical advantages, that height and reach. I think he has the style to confuse and upset Kevin from long range.
'I go with Burns on points.'
One interested observer this Saturday will by John Murray, the Manchester lightweight who Mitchell superbly knocked out in an epic encounter last year.
Mitchell, 27, has promised Murray the first shot at the title if he manages to defeat Burns – and Murray's respected trainer Joe Gallagher is confident the Cockney can deliver his vow.
'I so, so want Kevin Mitchell to win. He’s a real good kid,' said Gallagher.
'The way he conducted himself in the John Murray fight was the blueprint for all professional fighters. He was funny, quick witted but always respectful.
'He’s also said that, if he wins, he’ll give John Murray first shot at his belt.’
Burns v Mitchell is live and exclusive on BoxNation (Sky Ch. 437/Virgin Ch. 546) this Saturday night. Join at: www.boxnation.com