-- Sharmba Mitchell sat in a chair holding some ice to his forehead. The Takoma Park native had a small cut on the bridge of his nose, his mouth was cut and his forehead had some welts.
For Mitchell it appeared what he accomplished Saturday night was worth the bruised face. He defeated veteran Vince Phillips by majority decision in a 10-round, 140-pound fight at the Coca-Cola Bricktown Event Center.
The victory might have pushed the former World Boxing Association 140-pound champion into a fight with the division's undisputed champ, Kostya Tszyu. Mitchell has been yearning for a rematch against Tszyu after he lost his title in February 2001 by seventh-round technical knockout.
That fight was stopped when Mitchell couldn't continue because of an injury to his left knee. Mitchell was trailing on the scorecards, 68-64, 68-65 and one judge had the fight 66-66. Mitchell tore his anterior cruciate ligament prior to the Tszyu fight. The night of the fight, Mitchell's manager, Nate Peake, told the fighter to back out because of the knee injury. Mitchell fought well against Tszyu, but his knee injury slowed his movement and his punching power in the loss.
Mitchell and his camp feel a rematch would erase what happened in February.
"I thought what I did against Phillips should prove that I deserve another chance," said Mitchell, who improved to 50-3-3 with 29 knockouts. "Why should Tszyu run from me? He should fight me."
Tszyu instead will face Jesse James Leija on Jan. 18.
Peake said Mitchell would be willing to face an undetermined opponent on the undercard of Tszyu-Leija.
"We can build the fight up that way," Peake said. "We thought we were winning the first fight. We know we can beat this man with not only one leg but also two legs. I don't see why he would duck us. He handpicked the guy he's fighting [Jan. 18]; we're not a handpicked opponent by any means."
If Tszyu defeats Leija and bypasses another fight with Mitchell, it might signal the end of Mitchell in the 140-pound division.
"I can't wait here forever," said Mitchell, 32. "If he doesn't want me, I'll move up if that's necessary. But my first goal is to fight Tszyu."
Mitchell showed good movement and established his jab against Phillips in the early rounds. But Phillips (44-7-1, 31 KO) rallied in the latter rounds by taking the fight inside with good combinations. Mitchell said when he fought Phillips's fight it allowed his opponent to get back into the bout.
Two of the ringside judges scored the fight 99-91 and 96-94 for Mitchell. A third judge scored it 95-95.
"I was surprised by the judging," Mitchell said. "But I got the win; that's all that matters. When you fight a tough guy like Vince, you're not sure what the judges might do."