For the past few years, fight fans in the United Kingdom have talked about a potential fight between Ricky Burns of Scotland and Kevin Mitchell of England -- and now they'll get it.
Promoter Frank Warren announced Tuesday that Burns will make the first defense of his lightweight world title against Mitchell on Sept. 22 in Glasgow, Scotland, where Burns is a major star.
"This is the big one," Warren said. "It's the fight the fans have been waiting for and I'm delighted to say that it's now finally on. There is plenty of pride on the line with both men and neither will want to lose. What a fight to start the autumn schedule."
Said Burns, "The fight's been on the boil for the last couple of years and the fans and press have been desperate for it to happen. It's fantastic that it's on at last. We are both at the top of our game now and I'm in this sport to prove that I'm the best. Next to me, Mitchell's the best around and it will be a great fight between two warriors."
Burns (34-2, 9 KOs), 29, who made three junior lightweight title defenses before moving up in weight, claimed an interim lightweight belt by outpointing Michael Katsidis in November and then claimed the full title by easily outpointing Paulus Moses in March in a career-best performance.
Mitchell, 27, of London, suffered his only loss against Katsidis in May 2010 when he challenged for the interim belt and was stopped in the third round.
Since then, Mitchell (33-1, 24 KOs) has won both of his fights, an eight-round knockout of highly regarded British contender John Murray in July 2011 and a lopsided decision win against Felix Lora in February.
"He put on a great showing against John Murray last year that showed just how good a boxer he is to take (him) apart," Burns said. "But this fight is the fight I've wanted and it's got me really excited. Mitchell's going to bring out the best in me and I believe that the fans are going to be in for an unbelievable fight."
Mitchell-Murray was considered by many the U.K. fight of the year in 2011. Mitchell believes his fight with Burns will be another exciting one.
"I'm promising you now you're going to see the best fight of the year or any year," Mitchell said. "This is a real fight between the two best in the division and it's not going to be for the faint-hearted. I rate Burns very highly. He's a great fighter and has really proved himself as one of the top champions in the world. I'm going into the lion's den and I know I can beat him and take the world title.
"Burns is a top kid and I've got to be at top of my game, the fittest and strongest I've ever been in my life to win."