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What next for Ricky Burns?

Ricky BurnsBy Gav Duthie: Saturday was one of those nights where boxing was really the winner. I hope a lot of those casual fan moaners who derided the sport after Floyd Mayweather Jr. – Manny Pacquiao tuned in to see Saul “Canelo” Alvarez – James Kirkland, Omar Figueroa – Ricky Burns or Jaime McDonnell- Tomoki Kameda.


Saturday night reminded me a little bit of Tommy Hearns after Marvin Hagler or Arturo Gatti after Mickey Ward where the loser actually enhanced their reputation because of the way they performed. James Kirkland will have opportunities for 154lb titles and Ricky ‘Rickster’ Burns proved he is not a shot fighter.

Looking at Burns in particular though what does he do now after the defeat. Fans would likely love to see him in dome tear ups with the likes of John Molina or Ruslan Provodnikov. He has now lost 3 out of his last four with his record reading 37-5-1 (11) so what are his options. 

Troubles behind him

Burns told us his poor run of form which dates back to Jose A Gonzalez through Raymundo Beltran, Terrence Crawford, Dejan Zlaticanin and Alexandre Lepelley was due to problems outside the ring. Ricky was declared bankrupt a couple of months ago due to a courtroom battle with former promoter Frank Warren. Although he was successful in large parts of the lawsuit involving future revenue the lawyer bills were crippling. Burns said the fight with Texan Figueroa was a fresh start but at 32 years old many questioned his ability to rise again. 

Matchmaking


Now that we have all seen that Ricky is not a shot fighter Eddie Hearn now has a very important job in guiding the rest of Burns career for as long as it lasts. Hearn would have been waiting to see what Burns had left before formulating any plans but now there are a lot of decisions to be made regarding his future. 

What weight division

I think its a pretty safe bet to say that Ricky will not win a world title at 140lbs. Peterson was said to be stripped of his IBF title for fighting Garcia at 143lb catch-weight and Garcia himself could give up his WBC and WBA to move to welterweight. This means 3 of the four titles could be up for grabs however you have the likes of Lucas Matthysse and Adrien Broner waiting in the wings and I doubt Burns could beat them. The IBF seems to be the weakest with Argentine Cesar Cuenca 47-0 (2) ranked number 1. The only two options I see for Burns at light welterweight are

1. Go for an eliminator against an average ranked opponent with the IBF or
2. Fight Willie Limond in an all Scottish affair for the Commonwealth title

Although Ricky looked okay against Figueroa he needs a win now and as much as I like Limond if he can’t beat him there is nowhere for him to go. It is fair to say he held is own against Figueroa but was he strong enough at the weight. 

Can he get back down to 135lbs

If he gets his strength and conditioning right there is no doubt he can fight here and be strong. Ricky can box but he always ends up in a scrap and the thought of him trying o do this against the likes of Matthysse at 140lbs scares me. He can certainly use this style at a lower weight though. At lightweight there are still prizes up for grabs at domestic and world level. 

Current title holders

WBC – Jorge Linares (Defends against Kevin Mitchell)
IBF – Mickey Bey
WBA – Darleys Perez
WBO – Vacant – Raymundo Beltran failed to make weight

When I look at this list I have more optimism regarding Burns slim chances of regaining a world title. If Kevin Mitchell can dethrone Jorge Linares on May 30 a Burns rematch would undoubtedly be an easy make as Hearn promotes both fighters. I don’t think a huge amount of Mickey Bey as he should have lost to Miguel Vasquez when he won the title. Perez only received the title because of Cuban Richar Abril’s inactivity and the WBO which Ricky lost last year is vacant again. A rematch with Beltran would surely generate some interest in the UK. 

Where is he in his career?

Apparently American TV is interested in Burns after a Braveheart performance. I would love to see Burns fight somebody like John Molina that would be a war. He could have a good career there fighting prospects but is that doing him a disservice? If he comes back home to Scotland he will be expected to fight for titles. 

Final Thought

I think Burns owes it to himself and his fans to have a final crack at a title at lightweight. If he gets it he would certainly be considered Scotland’s greatest boxer but if he doesn’t he will still have a few years entertaining fans and that is what boxing is all about. 


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