The champion won the title last year, when he travelled to Japan and out pointed the limited Shintaro Matsumoto in Tokyo. Since then he has been busy, racking up 4 wins, all by stoppage, but not defending his OPBF title. His competition during those 4 stoppages hasn't been great, but he has been staying busy, staying fresh and preventing any risk of ring rust, whilst also gaining some valuable ring time.
In the ring Mitchell is a really nice to watch boxer. He's not a big puncher, despite his run of 4 stoppages, but he is a sharp and accurate fighter, with a solid work rate, nice movement and solid technical skills. Defensively he's a little bit lapse at times but throws nice counter shots and will tough to beat at this level, unless a fighter can either out work him and neutralise his counter punching, or can physically bully him.
Although talented Mitchell does always seem like an under-sized Super Middleweight. He seems to carry a bit of flab around the mid-section and looks like someone who could drop a weight, or two, if he really wanted to. At the age of 31 however it may well be a simple case of not wanting to move down, and being happy at 168lbs.
Aged 24 Yilixiati is one of a number of rising Chinese fighters who began to create a buzz for themselves as part of the “League of Fists” tournaments. He won the Super Middleweight crown there last year, and proved he could go 8 rounds in the final when he beat Chaogun Dong to score one of his most impressive wins to date. Since then he has gone 2-0 (2) with a notable stoppage against once promising Thai Chaloemporn Singwancha back in February.
Through his career so far the Chinese fighter has never fought outside of China, so fighting in Australia will be a big difference and will be one of the big things that he will have to adapt to. He has also never faced a fighter as skilled, or as sharp as Mitchell. If the location of the fight doesn't bother him he will potentially have a chance, however we have seen fighters travel horribly in the past, and that could be a problem here.
Stood at around 6” and with a long reach the Chinese fighter is a fully fledged Super Middleweight, with wide shoulders and a naturally powerful frame. In the ring he's slightly on the slow side but is very powerful, with even his jab looking like a hurtful shot. Although powerful he doesn't have the natural snap on his punches that the best schooled fighters do and a fighter like Mitchell could take advantage of that with his counters.
If Mitchell can control the range it's hard to see him losing here. However Yilixiati has got the power, size and strength to hurt him and if he can land his shots with regularity he has got the potential to break down and wear out the champion in the later rounds.
We suspect Mitchell will retain, though for the sake of Chinese boxing it would be amazing to see the challenger pick up the victory here.
(Image courtesy of https://aus-boxing.com/)