By Frank Warren
Ricky Burns strengthened his case to be considered Britain’s top pound for pound fighter last Saturday when he demolished world class Londoner Kevin Mitchell inside four rounds at the SECC, Glasgow.
Though the 29 year old Scot entered as a marginal betting favourite, few expected him to prevail so quickly or so clinically.
‘The Dagenham Destroyer’ had lost just once previously in 34 starts and his camp where adamant that he landed in Scotland in the best shape, physically and mentally, of his nine year career. Yet Burns blew Mitchell away, flooring him three times and making a mockery of those who insist the WBO lightweight champion doesn’t punch his weight.
I’ve long advocated that ‘Rickster’ is both the most underrated and most improved fighter in Britain. While he is blessed with an abundance of skill and natural speed, what impresses me most about the man from Coatbridge is his professionalism.
Burns really lives a fighter’s life; cutting no corners in either his training schedule or his diet. Consequently, he reaps the rewards on fight night. He gets the absolute maximum from his God given talents and has evolved into one of the biggest, fittest, most industrious fighters at his weight in world boxing. He serves as the blueprint for all aspiring young professionals to follow.
This week a journalist suggested to me that Burns is finally ready to be let off the leash against anyone in the division. I had to point out that we let Ricky off the leash two years ago when he challenged Roman ‘Rocky’ Martinez for the WBO super-featherweight crown.
The monster punching Puerto Rican, then just 27 and in his prime, was universally acknowledged as the premier 130lb fighter on the planet. However, in his first foray at world level, Burns rose from a heavy first round knockdown to destroy the champion in every department.
That night Ricky showed he had the nuts, guts and chin to supplement his obvious engine and boxing ability. Incidentally, it remains the only reverse on Martinez’s 11 year pro career and a fortnight ago he re-iterated his quality by regaining the super-feather world title in Las Vegas.
Burns has since enhanced his standing by winning a second world title up at lightweight where, back to back, he has comprehensively mastered proven top grade operators Michael Katsidis, Paulus Moses and now Mitchell. The schooling of Namibian Moses, a former world champion with a 28-1 CV, is often mysteriously overlooked.
The Scot has lost just twice in 37 fights, with his last reverse coming over five and a half years back when he was just 23 and still learning his craft. For me, he has already proven himself superior to Carl Froch, who has twice been found wanting at world level.
Both Mikkel Kessler and Andre Ward have unanimously outpointed ‘The Cobra’.
Ricky will return in December to consolidate his position against a good opponent. However, it won’t be compatriot Scott Harrison, the returning ex-WBO featherweight king, who needs a couple more fights to fully sharpen his tools. That blockbuster, plus unification against rival world champions like Miguel Vasquez (IBF) or Antonio DeMarco, could happen next year. I’d have no worries matching Burns against any lightweight in the world, right now, but the real biggie is Adrien Broner. That is a mouth-watering fight.
Scotland has a rich fistic history but Burns is compiling a body of work to match fellow lightweights Ken Buchanan and Jim Watt. Further world title victories will establish him as the best Caledonian fighter since the war.
Tragic news came from South Africa last weekend where former WBO heavyweight champion Corrie Sanders was shot dead during an armed robbery.
The 46 year old had been celebrating the 21st birthday of his nephew at a restaurant when three gunmen descended.
A father of two, ‘The Sniper’ took bullets in the arm and stomach whilst shielding his daughter. He died in hospital shortly after. The robbers’ bounty? A single digital camera and a handbag!
Southpaw Sanders won 42 of 46 fights, most noticeably bouncing Wladimir Klitschko off the canvas like a yo-yo for two rounds, to claim his title in Hannover nine years ago.
Though Vitali Klitschko avenged family honour over eight rounds in Los Angeles a year later, he declared Corrie ‘the most difficult opponent I faced’.
I met Sanders, a three handicap golfer, a few times and always found him affable. Such a dreadful waste. Rest peacefully, champ.
Julio Cesar Chavez Jr has been fined $10,000 by the WBC after testing positive for Marijuana following his loss to Sergio Martinez in September.
The WBC stated they “will open its doors once again to him, so he can continue his successful career when he feels he can return” and “won’t suspend Julio Cesar for an undefined time, because that is not going to help him. The suspension will last as long as the rehab centre advises” and “The WBC is no court or institution that permanently punishes it athletes”.
To the contrary Dereck Chisora was fined $50,000 for his behaviour in Munich and kicked out of their ratings.
What message does this send out – that taking drugs is ok in sport? No coincidence that Julio Cesar Jnr is a Mexican and his Dad swelled the WBC’s coffers throughout the 90’s.
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