by David P. Greisman
Ricky Burns is a lightweight titleholder who hasn’t lost in six and a half years. Ray Beltran is a challenger with six losses on his record. But Burns’ promoter doesn’t see Beltran as an easy opponent.
“I think it’s a really, really tough fight to be honest with you,” Eddie Hearn said on Aug. 16, speaking to BoxingScene’s David Greisman and Tim Starks of Queensberry-Rules.com at the weigh-in for the middleweight title fight between Daniel Geale and Darren Barker. “I think Beltran is hugely underrated, in terms of if you look at his record. I mean he’s lost a couple of times, been thrown in early on, [and is] coming off a couple of good wins. I think that outside of the champions, he’s probably the toughest opponent we could’ve picked. [Jorge] Linares was another option, but I thought Beltran was more deserving.
“Obviously he’s a Top Rank fighter. I like the link there. Bob was trying to pop on about the winner fighting [Terence] Crawford. Well, we’re the champions. So if we’re the winner, we’ll decide who we fight next. I’ve been talking to HBO, and they like the idea of Burns-Crawford, and obviously a Madison Square Garden fight on HBO is attractive to a lot of people. But the way that sometimes it comes out is that if Bob wants it to happen, it happens.”
Burns-Beltran will take place Sept. 7 in Scotland, Burns’ fourth straight outing there and his 29th in 39 pro fights.
“I feel as though we’re building a fan base in Scotland, and we’ve got the backing of broadcasters over there where we can bring the big fight to Scotland,” Hearn said. “Obviously we’re here [in the United States] with Darren Barker and we’re happy too travel, but obviously when you’re champion terms are a little different. But at the same time Burns is at a level here where he wants the big fights, he wants the big paydays, and if he does have to travel, he’s not averse to doing so.”
Crawford, he said, isn’t a mandatory challenger yet but probably will end up becoming one.
“Ricky’s really looking at the unification fights. But the lightweight division landscape has changed quite a bit lately where the unification fights aren’t quite as lucrative as potentially a voluntary defense or a mandatory defense,” Hearn said.
He also listed as possible opponents WBA beltholder Richard Abril, the winner of a potential fight between interim WBC titleholder Omar Figueroa and Daniel Estrada, and IBF beltholder Miguel Vazquez.
“We reached out to Vazquez. They outpriced themselves and they’re now fighting Ammeth Diaz,” Hearn said. “What was the purse bid for that fight like? $50,000 or something? The Vazquez fight still appeals. There’s a couple of domestic fights. Anthony Crolla just beat Gavin Rees in a really big fight in the UK. A lot of people are saying he deserves a shot now. Obviously domestic fights are big draws themselves. I do feel that you get to the stage with Ricky where you have to put him in a unification fight or a really, really big fight. I do feel that Beltran, outside of those fights, is probably the toughest fight you could’ve picked.”
David P. Greisman is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Follow David on Twitter @fightingwords2 or send questions/comments via email at [email protected]