By Jake Donovan
Timing is everything when it comes to winning in the ring. Ricky Burns has conquered that aspect in spades in recent years, but the timing required for actually getting into the ring has proven to be a bear for the streaking lightweight titlist.
Yet another fight date has been pulled from under his feet, as a proposed January 26 title defense in Glasgow is no longer on the table. A projected return in late February or early March marks the third separate targeted next fight date for Burns, who hasn’t fought since his 4th round knockout over Kevin Mitchell last September.
"He's just having a wee rest before his next fight, which should be at the end of February or beginning of March," revealed manager Andy Morrison in an interview with BBC Scotland on Tuesday. “We hope it will be in Glasgow so that Ricky’s fans can see him in action.”
Burns (35-2, 10KO) saw two separate opponents fall through on a December 15 show from which he was eventually removed. His original opponent, undefeated contender Liam Walsh was injured in a car accident in November, prompting event handlers to secure the services of Jose Ocampo.
Plan B fell apart a week before the fight when Ocampo withdrew following the sudden death of his trainer. The news left Burns gutted, as it was reported at the time that the fight was to serve as a springboard for a potential showdown with unbeaten American star Adrien Broner on HBO in the first quarter of 2013.
The January 26 date in Scotland was tentatively held for Burns, though his team entered negotiations for the fight with Broner. Talks seemed to move along well, until Burns’ team decided they would instead go in another direction, sticking with the hometown showcase and pursuing the fight sometime down the road.
Broner will now face former 140 lb. titlist Gavin Rees, while Burns is now left without a fight. His handlers held on to the fight date for as long as possible, but decided to postpone after still being without an opponent just two weeks out from fight night.
The decision made by Burns team in regards to Broner marked the second time such a fight has been left on the table in the span of just over a year. Burns was a 130 lb. titlist at the time he was sought out for Broner’s first shot at a major title in November 2011. However, the Scot decided that he could no longer make the 130 lb limit, moving up in weight and abandoning the fight and HBO date.
The gamble proved worthwhile; Burns went on to soundly defeat Michael Katsidis in a vacant lightweight title fight to lay claim to alphabet hardware in his second weight class. Broner won the 130 lb. belt left behind by Burns, but managed only one official defense before outgrowing the division himself and moving up to lightweight late last year.
Broner and Burns are generally regarded by most respectable ranking sets as the best two lightweights in the world. Such a showdown would crown an officially recognized lightweight king.
Instead, Broner – whose arrival came in emphatic fashion with a one-sided beatdown of Antonio Demarco in November - now has the opportunity to put further separation between the two when he fights in February.
Burns, who had his chance to have a say in the matter, was always going to be a living room spectator for the fight. Only now, his view of the fight will come while waiting for one of his own.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter: @JakeNDaBox