By Kevin Francis, courtesy of The Daily Star
CHALLENGING Ricky Burns tonight must seem like a walk in the park for Terence Crawford. After all, he has survived a bullet in the head.
The American meets WBO lightweight champ Burns at the SECC in Glasgow and admits that he is lucky to be alive.
Six years ago he was shot through the rear window of his car near his house in Omaha while counting his winnings from a game of dice.
Unbelievably, he walked away with only a bloody right ear and recalled: “I could have been dead - but instead I was blessed.
“The doctor told me the only reason it grazed me and bounced off instead of going into my skull was that the window slowed it down – boy, was I lucky!”
Now the 26-year-old American, undefeated in 22 contests, is convinced he can relieve Scot Burns of his crown.
He knows he will receive a hostile reception tonight but said: “The whole country is riding on Ricky because without him what is Scotland?
“The fans won’t like it, but I am fine, I don’t care. They can boo as much as they want but it is what I do in the ring that counts.
“What can they do apart from yell and scream? I’ve fought the boos before and I’ll do it again in this fight.
“I knew I would have to come over to Scotland to fight Ricky, I have no problem with that. I know I can win – I have not come here for a holiday.”
Burns feels he is back to his best after claiming a split decision win over Raymundo Beltran in his last fight in September, breaking his jaw in the process.
He also survived a knockdown in that fight and enters tonight’s bout as a general 2-1 shot to overcome odds-on favourite Crawford.
But he said: “I’ve been made out to be the underdog in some of my other big fights as well. It’s just taken more pressure off me.
“Fighting at home in front of 10,000 fans, that’s big enough as it is. I’m just hoping to go out there and put on a good performance.”
I’m taking Burns to rise to the occasion in front of his home fans and defy the odds by winning a close points decision.
Meanwhile, James DeGale defends his WBC silver super-middleweight belt against Netherlands-based Gevorg (correct) Khatchikian in Bristol tonight.
The unbeaten Khatchikian dismissed his opponent, saying: “He can box well, but he is lacking the toughness required for professional boxing.”
I expect DeGale to claim another victory, around the sixth, in a contest that will be screened on Channel 5 from 9.10pm tonight.
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