By Kevin Francis, courtesy of The Daily Star
RICKY BURNS is ready to use months of frustration as his biggest weapon when he defends his WBO world lightweight title.
The Scot meets Puerto Rican Jose Gonzalez at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow tonight after several planned fights fell through.
After his stunning fourth round stoppage of Kevin Mitchell in September, a clash with Liam Walsh collapsed, with the same fate befalling an intended bout with replacement Jose Ocampo.
A fight with IBF belt holder Miguel Vazquez was then lined up but the meeting never came off, much to Burns’ dismay.
He said: “We did a full camp for the December fight with Walsh and to find out three or four days before that it was off, you can imagine how I felt.
“I had a couple of weeks off and then we got the Vazquez fight offered to us. A big fight like that, you jump at the chance and it was the same scenario again.
“Then that was cancelled and I felt let down after all the tough sparring and hard work.
“Now I am ready to make up for lost time.”
Mandatory challenger Gonzalez boasts 17 KOs from 22 wins – but that record does not bother Burns.
After all, he climbed off the deck in the opening round when lifting the WBO super-featherweight title from ‘Rocky’ Roman Martinez in 2010.
He said of tonight’s opponent: “His knockout ratio doesn’t concern me.
“When I fought Martinez, he had been knocking everybody out. After the first round, when I got caught clean, I was fine.
“Gonzalez is a totally different fighter. He switch-hits and likes to catch you with a big left hook.
“I watched footage of his fights and it seems to be the big left hook he has been knocking everybody out with.”
But 30-year-old Burns, with a record of just two defeats in 37 bouts, is supremely confident of a third successful title defence.
He said: “Over my last few fights I have been getting more aggressive and feel more than ready.”
This will be the first time Gonzalez has fought outside of his native Puerto Rico and he said: “I know I’m fighting in his home city.
“But there will only be Burns and me in the ring and, although he is a skilled boxer, I will finish him off.”
PREDICTION: Gonzalez will pose problems for Burns but I’m taking the Coatbridge fighter to win on points.