By Jake Donovan
The brass at Matchroom Boxing formally announced the details for Ricky Burns' first defense of his super welterweight title. The fighting pride of Glasgow, Scotland will return to the same venue where he nabbed the title - the SSE Hydro in his hometown - where he will face mandatory challenger Kiryl Relikh on Friday October 7, live on Sky Sports.
The announcement confirms a previous news break by BoxingScene's Elliot Foster on Thursday.
Burns (40-5-1, 14KOs) - a former super featherweight and lightweight titlist - became a three-division titlist following an 8th round stoppage of Italy's Michelle Di Rocco this past May.
“My face at the end of the fight said everything – it meant so much to me that win and prove I still have so much to give,” said Burns in a statement through Matchroom Boxing's press office. “It was great to be back in Glasgow and I said before I had to win to get those nights back again, not just for me but for the future of Scottish boxing.“
He gets his wish for his first defense, which also marks the first title opportunity for his opponent.
Relikh (21-0, 19KOs) - a 26-year old from Belarus - returns to the United Kingdom for the fourth time in his young career, though marking his first trip to Scotland. His trip into hostile territory comes with a notable road companion, as his promoter Ricky Hatton spent his fighting days as the face of U.K. boxing.
“Kiryl is one of those cool, unflinching boxers – nothing fazes him,” said Hatton. “This is a big opportunity for him and he’s not bothered about being the underdog. Kiryl’s been training and boxing away from home for years so he’ll have no problem going to Scotland for the fight. I think having the crowd against him will bring the best out of him.
“Ricky Burns is a top class fighter. You don’t win three world titles by being anything less than world class, but there always has to be a changing of the guard and I think this could be Kiryl’s time. He’s been working with me in the gym for a while now and every day he’s been getting better and better so I believe people with be a little bit surprised with what they see when gets it on with Burns.”
Relikh comes in on the heels of a 4th round knockout of Joaquim Carniero this past May in England. The win ran his knockout streak to 12 straight dating back to 2012.
As for Burns, the title-winning effort over Di Rocco was his third straight - all by stoppage - since a disputed points loss to Omar Figueroa Jr. in their battle of former lightweight titlists last May. The official verdict served as the tail end of a rough stretch where he managed just one clean win in a span of five fights that included a title-losing effort to Terence 'Bud' Crawford in March '14.
Crawford is now the recognized World (lineal) champion at super lightweight, a status confirmed in his title unifying landslide win over previously unbeaten Viktor Postol this past July. A rematch with Burns would make more sense now than at any previous point since it would mean three belts at stake in such a fight.
It remains a possibility for the future, according to Burns and his team. For now, all thoughts and focus are squarely on hanging the first loss on the career of another unbeaten super lightweight.
“Relikh is a very tough fight as a first defence,” insists Burns. “He’s got a high KO ratio so he will be very dangerous throughout. Trust me he has my undivided attention and I will have to be at my best to get through this.
“There are some massive fights out there in the future against some huge names in the 140lbs division – but we’re taking it one step at a time, and that starts on October 7 at the Hydro.”
TICKETS AND UNDERCARD INFO
Featured in supporting capacity:
- Scotty Cardle defends his British Lightweight title against Kevin Hooper;
- Commonwealth Games gold medal favourite Charlie Flynn faces Manchester’s Kofi Yates;
- Flynn’s Commonwealth Games teammate Joe Ham and heavyweight hopeful Dillian Whyte appear in separate bouts.
Ticket details are expected to be revealed in the coming days.