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Ricky Burns vs. Dejan Zlaticanin on June 27th in WBC lightweight title eliminator

burns453By Scott Gilfoid: #5 WBO Ricky Burns (36-3-1, 11 KO’s) will be fighting little known #9 WBC Dejan Zlaticanin (18-0, 13 KO’s) next month on June 27th in a WBC lightweight title eliminator and also for the vacant WBC International lightweight title at the Braehead Arena, in Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom.

Burns, 31, isn’t ranked in the top 15 by the World Boxing Council, so it’s interesting that his promoter Eddie Hearn was still able to wrangle a deal to have a fight between him and the non-top 5 ranked Zlaticanin as a WBC eliminator bout to get a chance to get locked in as the mandatory challenger to face WBC lightweight champion Omar Figueroa. Ideally, you like to see eliminator bouts set up between two fighters that are at least ranked in the top 5 by the sanctioning body that has agreed to the eliminator. That’s not what we have here.

The 30-year-old Zlaticanin is from Montenegro, and he’s still never faced a top tier opponent as of yet. His #9 ranking is based on victories over the likes of Felix Lora, Petr Petrov and a lot of fighters that even hardcore boxing fans wouldn’t be familiar with. Petrov is the same fighter that Marcos Maidana destroyed in 4 rounds three years ago. Zlaticanin really struggled to beat Petrov last year in beating him by a close 12 round decision. That’s not a good sign when you’re trying to gauge the talent of a fighter who still hasn’t cut his teeth against his first high quality top tier opponent. Just based on Zlaticanin’s struggle to defeat Petrov, the WBC should have thought about ranking him lower than #9 by their organization. None of the other sanctioning bodies has Zlaticanin ranked in their top 15, so you can take that anyway you want.

In looking at Zlaticanin’s fighting style, he fights a lot like Ricky Hatton with his plodding way of stalking his opponents, and the way he throws a lot of body shots. While Zlaticanin’s height isn’t listed, he looks very short, possibly 5’6″ or 5’5″, at best. Zlaticanin is a southpaw, and he doesn’t seem to throw a lot of punches. He plods slowly forward, gets hit with a lot of jabs, and when he does get inside, he throws one or two shots, and then admires his work. Obviously, that approach won’t work against Burns because he’ll simply be tied up on the inside each and every time he comes inside. You can expect 10+ clinches per round in this fight until it’s over.

Hearn believes that Burns’ career is on the line with this fight, and he’s definitely correct. “100 percent. He’d have such a big ladder to climb to come back. He’d be slung in the deep end in a really difficult fight and to try and carve out an opportunity so losing is definitely not an option,” Hearn said. “He’s got a point to prove to himself and the fans that he’s still capable of winning those world titles.”

Burns is being position to get a fight against arguably the weakest and by far the most vulnerable of the lightweight champions in Figueroa. This might be the only guy that Burns has any chance of beating right now, as Burns would likely be in over his head against IBF champion Miguel Vazquez and WBA champion Richard Abril. Burns already lost his WBO title to Terence Crawford last March by a 12 round unanimous decision in a one-sided fight. The way that Burns lost that fight, it left no doubt that he wouldn’t stand a chance against Crawford in a rematch.

Figueroa is someone that not only Burns can probably beat, but also a good number of other lightweight contenders as well. Figueroa almost lost his last fight against fringe contender #15 WBC Jerry Belmontes. You’ve got to give Hearn a ton of credit for setting up a fight between Burns and Zlaticanin for the WBC title eliminator, because there are quite a few more deserving contenders that should have gotten that fight instead of these two guys.

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