Mitchell emerges from the darkness
Twelve months ago Kevin Mitchell was "grafting on the railway" to make ends meet, his favoured career in jeopardy because of a debilitating hand injury. A second baby on the way and a mortgage to pay, Mitchell concedes they were "dark, dark times".
Mitchell had spent the previous six years compiling one of the most eye-catching resumes in British boxing, including winning the British and Commonwealth super-featherweight crowns. He nevertheless played second fiddle in Frank Warren's promotional stable, so that had his injury forced him to hang them up for good, few outside of the boxing fraternity would have noticed.
Instead Mitchell got his hand fixed and returned a rejuvenated fighter, winning a couple of tune-ups before thoroughly outclassing Colombia's Breidis Prescott, the man who knocked out Amir Khan in 54 seconds in 2008, last December.
Mitchell prepared for Katsidis at his Canning Town gym with veteran trainer Jimmy Tibbs
And on Saturday at his beloved Upton Park, Mitchell takes on rugged Aussie Michael Katsidis for the WBO interim lightweight crown in front of an expected 15,000 fans. "Frank Warren used to say I was his diamond in the rough," Mitchell told BBC Sport. "He kept me out of the limelight, but now I'm beaming through."
Before his defeat of Prescott, you would have expected a match between Mitchell and Katsidis to be a nailed-on war. But under the tutelage of revered trainer Jimmy Tibbs, who also guided Nigel Benn and Barry McGuigan among many others, Mitchell looks to have been upgraded from slugger to boxer.
"I always had the skills, if you look back to my amateur days I won more national titles than Amir Khan," explained the 25-year-old Mitchell, whose West Ham hero is, perhaps unsurprisingly, Julian Dicks - AKA 'The Terminator'.
"As a pro you're in there to attack and punch and hurt people, and that's what I do best. But against a fighter like Prescott, things had to change and Jimmy changed them. It went perfectly to the game-plan and nothing ever goes perfectly to the game-plan in the fight world.
Chelsea and former West Ham footballer Joe Cole is one of many stars to have dropped in during the build-up
"Everyone expected me to get chinned in four or five rounds, but I wasn't a 22-year-old boy who was vulnerable, I was a 25-year-old man and more hungry than you could dream of."
While "beaming through" has its upsides, not least financially, it also means the press and public want to reach out and grab you. As a result, the lead-up to the Katsidis fight hasn't been without its distractions.
When he hasn't been messing about in the ring with Chelsea and former Hammers star Joe Cole he's been doing pad-work with X Factor's Stacey Solomon or visiting the Ford Motor Works in his native Dagenham, to the irritation of Tibbs, who was quite clearly vexed by his charge's extra-curricular activities on the day I dropped in.
"It's part and parcel of the job, the better you are at something, the more you get noticed," explained Mitchell, who is undefeated in 31 fights. "But as Jimmy says, we've got to do the work - this is the fight game, and it's not an easy game."
The 29-year-old Katsidis last fought in Britain in 2007, when he engaged in one of the fights of the year against Luton's Graham Earl, a five-round humdinger that left Earl a husk of a fighter. In a game that is far from easy, Katsidis is no mere pawn.
Three of his last five fights have been against former world champions, including wars with Joel Casamayor and Juan Diaz. Katsidis is used to being in the trenches experiencing heavy bombing, although Mitchell believes his rival could be suffering from shellshock.
"Katsidis hits very hard, he's very strong and ferocious, but I think I've got him at the right time," said Mitchell. "It's a step up in boxing ability for me, but as soon as he stepped up he got beat and I've definitely got the punching power to take him out.
"I'd imagine you'll see a bit of slugging at times, it's hard not to with this kid, he's an animal. But that's also his downfall, he's been in so many of those sorts of fights now. How's he going to keep up with a 25-year-old who's fresh, has been active and is as hungry as me?"
There have been plenty of hungry fighters from round Mitchell's way down the years, and he is acutely aware of the rich East London heritage of which he is now a part - a heritage which takes in Benn and Terry Spinks, an Olympic gold medallist in 1956, and stretches back to Jewish legends Jack 'Kid' Berg and Ted 'Kid' Lewis before disappearing into the dim and distant bare-knuckle past.
But Mitchell has no intentions of following in the footsteps of Berg and Lewis, or indeed domestic rival Khan, and broadening his horizons across the pond.
"I'm happy here, in the gym with the boys," says Mitchell from his base in Canning Town. "Loads of ex-fighters, people I know from years ago, that's what I like. I couldn't care less about going to America. Why bother? I'll just bring them here."
Beat Katsidis on Saturday and Mitchell will be dreaming of fighting both Khan and the WBO's full champion Juan Manuel Marquez in his own backyard. An East End hero, he'll also be able to trade in that pram in his hall for a swankier model.