Tszyu vs. Mitchell II
|This article does not cite any sources. (December 2009) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)|
Tszyu vs. Mitchell II was a boxing fight that took place on November 6, 2004 at the Glendale Arena, in Glendale, Arizona, United States. It pitted world Jr. Welterweight champion Kostya Tszyu versus former world champion Sharmba Mitchell. Because of the peculiar circumstances of how their first fight ended, a rematch was necessary. The rematch was, in fact, nicknamed "Unfinished Business".
Their first fight
Tszyu and Mitchell met for the first time on November 2, 2002, with Tszyu as the WBC world champion and Mitchell as the WBA world champion. They fought to unify those belts. The first fight was held in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The fight was fought at close quarters, but there was also some rough tactics used by both boxers. Tszyu pushed Mitchell to the canvas four times. Whether the pushes were accidental or not was never known, but Mitchell injured his knee and declared himself unable to fight on during the seventh round, giving Tszyu an unlikely type of knockout.
Critics and fan reaction to first fight
One of the reasons that both Tszyu and Mitchell felt a rematch, apart from the fact that Mitchell claimed for three years after their first encounter that he was on his way to a win, was necessary was that most boxing magazine writers and fans alike felt that the first fight's result was inconclusive.
Likewise, fans were split as to whom was winning the first fight between the co-champions: while Tszyu fans generally had him ahead, Mitchell fans felt Mitchell was winning it until the point when he could go on no longer.
Problems to make the rematch happen
Tszyu defeated Ben Tackie next, on February 2003, by a twelve round unanimous decision, to retain the unified belts.
It was then rescheduled, to be fought during the summer of 2004, in Moscow, Russia. But Tszyu re-injured his wrist, forcing a second postponement. These two injuries caused Tszyu to be inactive for a total of twenty-two months. That and the fact that Mitchell's knee had also naturally become weaker after his own injury made many fans question the ability of both fighters to put on a good show in their rematch.
The IBF, perhaps tired of waiting for Tszyu to defend the belts, named Mitchell their "interim champion". After further negotiations, it was agreed the fight should be held in Glendale, Arizona, where the Glendale Arena was relatively new and needed some big name events to be held there.
The fight's undercard was filled with star boxers, with former world champions Yori Boy Campas and Joan Guzmán, as well as contenders Jermaine Woods and Jonathan Ochoa registering victories before the main event.
Just before the boxers entered the ring for the main event, two fans brought out two Russian flags. They lit one, burning it. A second one would have been burnt; security promptly arrived and removed the fans from the arena, but not before they threw the second flag for other fans to get it. These other fans proceeded to stomp on the flag. The reasons for protesting using a Russian flag during the Tszyu fight are not totally clear: though Tszyu is Russian by birth, he has long since renounced his Russian citizenship; Australia is Tszyu's new homeland.
Both fighters rushed out of their corners for round one. Tszyu was somewhat slower; he might have been trying to shake off some rust after not fighting for the aforementioned twenty-two months. Mitchell landed some heavy rights to Tszyu's chin, while the champion looked calm and composed. Mitchell outlanded Tszyu in this round. An important point of the fight was when both boxers clashed their heads before round one was finished, and Tszyu came out with a cut around his left eye.
Perhaps afraid that the fight would be stopped because of the cut and declared a technical draw, Tszyu came out of his corner for round two like if he had a feeling of urgency. Midway towards the round, he landed a right to Mitchell's chin that staggered the former world champion. Mitchell then retreated to the ropes, near his own corner. Tszyu followed with a flurry of punches, and Mitchell fell from an uppercut. He fell near the ropes, almost the same way that Sugar Ray Leonard had dropped Thomas Hearns in round thirteen of their 1981 fight.
Mitchell, visibly awakened, got up and continued fighting. Towards the end of the round, he landed a right to Tszyu's chin that made Tsyu's head snap back.
Soon after round three began, Tszyu connected with a right hand to the chin that sent Mitchell to the canvas for the second time; he landed on a sitting position. Mitchell again rose, but Tszyu stayed over him, driving him to the ropes and landing blows to Mitchell's body before Mitchell suffered his second knockdown of the round and third of the fight.
Once again, Mitchell rose, but he was trapped against the ropes. After another quick combination of blows to the body, Mitchell fell again, and referee Cadiz, Sr. proceeded to stop the fight.