By Jake Donovan
Raymundo Beltran’s chin is usually dependable. In the event that it fails him this weekend, he better make sure to not wait until the count of nine to rise to his feet, no matter the circumstance.
Officials have been named for this weekend’s lightweight title fight in Scotland, where Beltran travels to face local hero Ricky Burns. The referee for the scheduled 12-round main event will be Phil Edwards, largely inexperienced at the top level and known in recent times for his performance in Dereck Chisora’s controversial knockout win over American challenger Malik Scott earlier this summer.
Edwards came under fire for his role in Chisora escaping with a knockout win over Scott in July. The ending sparked debate over a point in which a referee should end a fight once decided a fighter’s health isn’t necessarily at risk.
Scott was floored late in round five and took his time rising to his feet. It was a learning lesson of the most severe kind for the previously unbeaten American, as the fight was waved off milliseconds after Edwards reached the count of nine. Scott was (presumably) clearheaded and willing to continue, but fell prey to what is commonly known in UK circles as the unwritten rule of “… eight, nine and out.”
The rule means that once the referee reaches nine, you shouldn’t expect to hear “10” but instead be prepared to take a knockout loss. Scott’s handlers felt otherwise, but a formal protest was ultimately dismissed and the final decision remained intact.
In the event that the bout goes to the scorecards, the fate of champion and challenger will be in the hands of Andre Van Grootenbruel (Belgium), Carlos Ortiz Jr. (United States) and Richie Davis (United Kingdom).
Burns (36-2, 11KO) makes the fourth defense of the lightweight belt he won nearly two years ago over Michael Katsidis in their vacant title fight. The two-division titlist has won 21 straight fights, but was lucky to escape with his win streak and title still intact in his last fight.
Unbeaten contender Jose ‘Chelo’ Gonzalez gave Burns all he could handle and was up on all three scorecards, only for an injured wrist to force him to quit in his corner after nine rounds. The bout was Burns’ first since signing with Matchroom Sport.
Beltran (28-8, 17KO) comes in riding a three-fight win streak. Most notable among the lot is his upset decision win over Hank Lundy, last July in Atlantic City. His most recent fight came in April, scoring a landslide win over Alejandro Rodriguez in Texas.
Saturday marks Burns’ fourth straight appearance in Glasgow; Beltran fights for the first time outside of the United States or his birth country of Mexico.
The bout will air live on Sky Sports in the United Kingdom and on Wealth TV in the United States.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as the Records Keeper for the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and a member of Boxing Writers Association of America.
Twitter: @JakeNDaBoxTags: Ricky Burns , Raymundo Beltran , Burns-Beltran , Burns vs Beltran