Lee Selby wins world title but Kevin Mitchell misses out

By Ben DirsBBC Sport at London's O2 Arena
Lee Selby
Lee Selby became Wales' 12th world boxing champion

Lee Selby produced a superb performance to beat Russia's Evgeny Gradovich and claim the IBF featherweight title.

The Welshman, 28, boxed beautifully at times and left the champion chasing shadows for sustained periods.

A clash of heads opened a nasty cut over Gradovich's right eye in the seventh and the doctor called the fight off in the following round.

Londoner Kevin Mitchell was stopped in the 10th round of his WBC lightweight fight by champion Jorge Linares.

Mitchell, 30, put up an incredibly game performance and floored Linares in the fifth round. But by the 10th Mitchell could hardly see out of his left eye and after he was battered to the canvas, the referee called the fight off.

As for Selby, he will be earmarked for great things, having made a seasoned and unbeaten opponent look ordinary at times.

Selby established his jab early and also landed with a peach of an uppercut in the opening round, although Gradovich did get through with a couple of right hands.

Selby boxed beautifully off the back foot in the second, repeatedly landing with left hooks before slipping out of range, and a pattern had been set.

The 12th Welsh world champion

Lee Selby
Lee Selby holds aloft the IBF featherweight belt

Gradovich, who glories in the moniker 'The Russian Mexican', continued to barrel forward in the fourth and continued to be picked off on the counter, although the champion did have a bit more success in the fifth.

But Gradovich, making the fifth defence of his title, was back to chasing shadows in the sixth, during which Selby rocked him with a couple of right crosses and almost took his legs from underneath him with a right over the top.

Selby shipped a couple of rights from the champion in the seventh but also opened up a nasty cut over Gradovich's right eye. And the fight was called off seconds into the eighth, after the doctor deemed him unfit to continue.

Because it was an accidental head-butt the judges were called upon, and they awarded Selby the fight unanimously, 79-73, 80-72, 79-73.

Selby is the third Welshman to win a featherweight world title, after the great Howard Winstone and Steve Robinson, and the 12th Welsh world champion in all.

The former British, European and Commonwealth champion now has 21 wins and one defeat, that one loss an insignificant four-round fight in 2009.

Mitchell has reasons to be proud

Kevin Mitchell
Mitchell had problems seeing out of his left eye towards the end of the fight

Mitchell will feel down but also tremendously proud. His promising career was almost derailed by alcohol addiction but he had won six fights since rejoining old amateur trainer Tony Sims in 2013, the last five inside the distance.

Linares came into the fight having won seven straight, including five knockouts, but had also been stopped three times in a 41-fight professional career.

The opening round was a tense affair but Linares, who looked huge for a lightweight, probably did enough to nick it courtesy of a late flurry.

Linares, a wily three-weight world champion, also came alive towards the end of the second, impressing the judges with some eye-catching combinations.

Former world champion Richie Woodhall
"It's difficult to say what was the best performance of the night. Mitchell was all about the heart, the courage and the flipside was Selby, which was all about the skill. Mitchell may have peaked tonight because it will be very difficult to come back mentally from that. That's a third title attempt."

East Londoner Mitchell, spurred on by the strains of West Ham anthem 'Bubbles', probably did enough to win the third. And the fight opened up towards the end of the fourth, during which both men sustained cuts after a clash of heads.

But Mitchell really came alive in the fifth, flooring Linares with a right-left combination. Linares was up at the count of eight but it was a 10-8 round in the bag for the challenger, who now had a baying crowd right behind him.

The sixth was difficult to score although Mitchell looked to have won the seventh.

His face was a mess by the end of a tight eighth with his right eye almost shut and the cut over his left bleeding profusely. But he seemed to have no problems seeing in the ninth, landing with some more snappy counters.

Linares finally got to Mitchell in the 10th. By the middle of the round the challenger was struggling to see past a grotesquely swollen left eye and he was battered to the ground.

But when the Englishman got to his feet the referee took one look at his face and waved the fight off, a decision that drew no complaints from Mitchell.

Nathan Cleverly
Nathan Cleverly lands a punch on his way to a rapid victory over Tomas Man

Elsewhere on a packed undercard, Wiltshire's Nick Blackwell caused an upset by stopping London's John Ryder in the seventh round and securing the vacant British middleweight title.

Ryder, 26, appeared to be in control of proceedings before a flurry of blows stopped him in his tracks and the referee deemed him unable to continue.

It was third time lucky for Blackwell, 24, who lost British title challenges against Martin Murray and Billy Joe Saunders in 2011 and 2012 respectively.

In a contender for fight of the night, Scott Cardle claimed the vacant British lightweight title with a unanimous decision over Welshman Craig Evans.

The pair almost ended up in a fight at Thursday's news conference and their actual match was a bloody affair, with Cardle's greater class telling in the end.

The 25-year-old Cardle, a stablemate of Scott Quigg, Anthony Crolla and the Smith clan at Joe Gallagher's gym in Bolton, is now unbeaten in 18 pro fights.

In a thrilling match for the Commonwealth light-welterweight title, champion Dave Ryan recovered from two knockdowns to stop Essex fighter John Wayne Hibbert in the ninth round. Derby's Ryan also outpointed Hibbert in 2013.

Wales' former light-heavyweight world champion Nathan Cleverly returned to action with a 24-second knockout of Czech journeyman Tomas Man.

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