by Cliff Rold
He may or may not have greater days in his career, but it’s hard to imagine WBO Lightweight titlist Ricky Burns having a much better one. In a long built and much anticipated U.K. clash with Kevin Mitchell, the Scot marked himself as one of the best in his division, clouting Mitchell in four and calling for unification in the future.
Will he get his wish?
Let’s go to the report card.
Pre-Fight: Speed – Burns B+; Mitchell B+/Post: Same
Pre-Fight: Power – Burns C; Mitchell B/Post: B; B
Pre-Fight: Defense – Burns B; Mitchell B/Post: B; C-
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Burns A; Mitchell B/Post: A; C
There is an old adage in boxing about some fighters getting better once they have a title. Burns is living proof. What looked like a first round loss to the big punching Rocky Martinez in his first title shot at 130 lbs. was instead the pivot of a career.
Burns rose, fought, and won. He hasn’t looked back. He’d been winning for a while anyways but Martinez was a moment of elevation. Saturday may well have been his validation. Mitchell had been stopped before but Burns wasn’t supposed to have the punch to go through him. Like Andre Ward against Chad Dawson a couple weeks ago, Burns showed off a growing ability to finish. He’s only had ten career knockouts. Three have come in his seven title fights.
Could we be seeing the roots of the sort of run Hozumi Hasegawa had at Bantamweight a couple years ago? In his case, the speedy Japanese champion found power where previous statistics said otherwise.
This much is clear: Burns is ready for the very best of his class. Lightweight isn’t a deep pool right now, but Burns is swimming in its deep end and deserves the chance to find out how good he can be. He said he wants unification bouts.
That’s a start.
Whether his promoter, Frank Warren, is as keen remains to be seen. Warren after the bout noted a showdown with aged former Featherweight titlist, and fellow Scotsman, Scott Harrison would be big business. He’s right of course, and their might be time for both. The two major titlists in Burns class, Miguel Vazquez and Antonio DeMarco, aren’t available any earlier than next year and making money before making the tougher fights isn’t a bad thing.
Let’s just hope there will be room for both. In boxing, it isn’t always the case, especially when one has a sure fire regional draw like Burns. They love him in Scotland. The whole world can fall in love with a better look.
Report Card Picks 2012: 50-16
Cruiserweight: Having not yet had a chance to review the rematch between Krzysztof Wlodarczyk and Francisco Palacios, the post-fight report card for that bout is delayed. Reports indicate a clear win for the titlist and so Wlodarczyk gets a bump in the ratings over Denis Lebedev. Lebedev’s level of opposition has been mundane since a draw with Marco Huck. Lebedev has a chance to get that bump back in a title shot against Guillermo Jones next month.
Lightweight: Burns gets an earned boost to third in the ratings, up from four. Having been sparked for the second time in four fights, Mitchell exits the top ten and Hank Lundy returns to the ratings.
Jr. Featherweight: Carl Frampton debuts at nine after a strong stoppage of former titlist and #10 Steve Molitor.
Jr. Bantamweight: Having not fought in the division for over a year, Hugo Cazares is removed from the top ten. He was previously rated second. Carlos Cuadras, currently the mandatory challenger for titlist Yota Sato, enters the top ten.
Flyweight: While it happened a division up, Rodel Mayol’s knockout loss in a title attempt against 115 lb. titlist Juan Carlos Sanchez squeezes him down a few pegs. Missed last week, the knockout loss of Julio Cesar Miranda at Bantamweight removes him from the ratings. Milan Melindo returns to the top ten.
The full results of note and impact on the ratings are a click away.
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene and a member of the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at email@example.com