by Cliff Rold
It only feels like there isn’t much going on in boxing this week if you live in the U.S.
Scottish fans have plenty to celebrate this Saturday. Their brightest talent in years, former Jr. Lightweight and current Lightweight titlist Ricky Burns (34-2, 9 KO), unbeaten in 19 fights since 2007, is back to scratch. He’ll face British challenger Kevin Mitchell (33-1, 24 KO) and the styles should mix just right.
On paper, it’s the fight of the week and could even rise to be more than that. Both men can box and brawl, and neither really does boring well. It should, at the least, be the most bell-to-bell entertaining scrap since Marcos Maidana-Jesus Soto Karass.
Burns, fighting in Glasgow this weekend and in the U.K. exclusively throughout his career, has built one heck of a fun fan base. Anyone reading ever seen a Burns fight? If not, get thee to YouTube. Burns fans are almost as much fun as the fighter.
In a week where former Jr. Welterweight Champion Ricky Hatton has announced a return to the ring, bringing his own lively fan base back for another round of singing and drinking (if not in that order), Burns stands out as someone who could capture the same sort of lightning in a bottle.
So, now, a simple request of the Scots.
If Burns wins this weekend, can the U.S. borrow him?
Yes, of course, he has to get by Mitchell. Some may see that as foregone. Burns boxed the brakes off the same Michael Katsidis who shelled Mitchell in three rounds. It’s best to remember not only that styles make fights but also that the attributes backing style make outcomes. Burns is not a huge puncher and the Mitchell loss is somewhat an anomaly. Mitchell has faced other big punchers and survived, notably in winning a wide decision over Breidis Prescott before the Katsidis loss.
Mitchell also posted a fine victory after Katsidis over undefeated John Murray. He’s ready for the challenge this weekend.
Where Burns can be favored is in his depth of experience and the bottom he’s shown to get where he is. It looked like winning a title wasn’t for him the night of his first major challenge. Locking horns with Puerto Rico’s Rocky Martinez in 2010 for the WBO 130 lb. title, Burns was dropped and looked done in the very first round.
He got up and proved appearances deceiving. In an absolute barnburner, Burns managed to win a decision and hasn’t looked back. He defended the belt three times before moving up and winning the interim WBO strap at 135 from Katsidis late last year in a dominating performance.
His lone fight since, a decision over former Lightweight titlist Paulus Moses in February, might have been his finest performance to date. Staying a step ahead of the game Namibian all night, he outboxed the boxer and set the stage for what amounts to a regional grudge match.
Burns, at 29, is the sort of fighter who appears to have gotten better with a strap around his waist and the time is right to wonder what happens if he breaks out a passport.
Lightweight is beginning to get lively again. The death of Edwin Valero and the moves up the scale of Juan Manuel Marquez left the division looking for a new face. Antonio DeMarco and Miguel Vazquez have won belts, the former more exciting to watch than the latter. Both can fight, but the division needs personality.
Stateside, Adrien Broner is meeting the need. The former Jr. Lightweight titlist, while still largely untested, has built one of the better followings of America’s young guns with a routine as high on boxing skill as it is on comic relief when the microphones are on. All signs point to Broner facing DeMarco in November (more on that below). Then what?
Burns can surely stay in Scotland and continue making his fans and promoters happy, but he might be able to do more than that. If Broner stays at Lightweight for more than a fight, and one presumes he would, can it be assumed he won’t be traveling?
Could Burns be coaxed to do so?
Burns-Broner might not be a superfight, but with the right East Coast location there could be incentive for both Broner’s Cincinnati faithful and Burns’s Scottish loyalists to travel. Lightweight needs an event.
If Burns wins this weekend, a fight with Broner could be it and it likely wouldn’t be an easy task for either man.
So again, Scotland, if Burns wins this weekend, can the U.S. borrow him?
The Weekly Ledger
But wait, there’s more…
Martinez Stays On His Feet: http://www.boxingscene.com/on-survivors-sacrifices-review-ratings-update--57270
Ratings Update: http://www.boxingscene.com/forums/view.php?pg=boxing-ratings
Picks of the Week: http://www.boxingscene.com/boxingscenecoms-television-picks-week--57269
Cliff’s Notes… Anyone else hate fake drama? This whole silliness in the headlines about Antonio DeMarco not fighting Adrien Broner if Broner were to miss weight is worth what? Broner blew 130, but still easily made 135 for his fight with Vicente Escobedo. Let’s assume he won’t blow weight twice in a row…Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. looks like he might not be back in time for a rematch with Middleweight king Sergio Martinez. It’s hard to imagine any suspension Jr. suffers for his second failed drug test will allow room for him to ever make 160 lbs. again. What does Martinez do then? The most exciting answer would be to fight Gennady Golovkin. The safest of the tough options available might be divisional unified titlist Daniel Geale, and that’s not too safe…There is plenty of grumbling about Pacquiao-Marquez IV. Everyone will watch it anyways.
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene and a member of the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]