By Shaun Brown
Ricky Burns’ promoter, Eddie Hearn, has suggested that the former two-weight world champion should walk away from boxing if his only desire is to operate at world level.
Burns, who suffered a split-decision loss to the unbeaten Montenegrin, Dejan Zlaticanin last night in Glasgow has been told to move down to domestic level to find a way back to the nights that brought him two world titles.
After the defeat, which saw Burns being dropped heavily by a left hand in the first round, Hearn said: “If world title ambitions are the only thing that turn you on then he [Burns] needs to consider his future. If he wants big domestic fights and he’s trying to find a way back and if he feels he’s fresh enough then I suggest he keeps going because there’s still fights out there. If he drops down and has a big domestic fight and loses then I would say, without question, hang up the gloves. The frustrating thing was with a good performance tonight we could’ve moved forward and brought a world title fight to Glasgow. There’s no point being in a world title fight if you’re not a live dog in the fight.”
Burns has given Scottish fight fans the good, the bad and the ugly in his previous three fights prior to last night against Jose Gonzales, Ray Beltran and Terence Crawford. But what his fervent supporters witnessed last night at the Braehead Arena was a fighter who reverted back to some old bad habits despite moving to new trainer, Tony Sims, after parting with Billy Nelson.
“He moved a bit better, he used the jab a bit better but he still made the same fundamental mistakes,” said a disappointed Hearn. “When he was trading, it was the same as it was in the Gonzalez fight and the Beltran fight and the Crawford fight. Every time he trades he gets caught.
“But you can’t expect to change a fighter in ten weeks having won two world titles at two different fights and having had forty fights. He’s trying to make changes in a difficult time in his career.
“He’s down the gym, he trains harder than anyone else and his performances in the gym are better than anyone else. He’s sparring with Luke Campbell, Kevin Mitchell, Martin Ward, John Ryder and he’s looking great then he’s not delivering it in the ring. If you’re a shot fighter you see it in the gym, you see it in sparring and we’re not sparring. That’s the frustrating thing. He’s winning the spars with Mitchell and Campbell who are top fighters… I don’t know the answer.”
Hearn ruled out a mooted return to Glasgow in October for Burns. This despite encouraging wins for fellow Scots, Stephen Simmons over Wadi Camacho as well as veteran, Willie Limond who won the British light-welterweight title by beating Curtis Woodhouse. Hearn said he may have to take Burns on the road.
“It’s difficult to headline with Limond or Simmons and I think you’d have to make a special kind of fight for Burns to headline a show,” he said. “Tonight was about regaining the confidence of the people and Ricky Burns and now it feels like we’ve taken another step back. But Ricky’s not in the dressing-room saying ‘I’m done, I can’t do this anymore’. He’s sitting there saying ‘I’ve let everyone down and I need to get back in the gym and improve’. But it’s a real kick in the nuts because he should be beating people like Zlaticanin.”
Please send news and views to firstname.lastname@example.org or @shaun_brown on Twitter.