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Ricky Burns vs. Adrien Broner possible for December

Adrien Broner Ricky Burns

By Scott Gilfoid: If WBA light welterweight champion Ricky Burns (40-5-1, 14 KOs) wins his fight next week against unbeaten #1 WBO Kiryl Relikh (21-0, 19 KOs) on October 7, a fight between Burns and former four division world champion Adrien “The Problem” Broner (32-2, 24 KOs) is in the pipeline for December, according to news from Burns’ promoter Eddie Hearn. Hearn wanted to make the Burns-Broner fight happen already, but with Broner’s recent legal problems in Cincinnati, Ohio, he decided to have Burns fight the unbeaten Relikh on October 7 at The SSE Hydro, in Glasgow, Scotland.

This is a fight that Burns is expected to win, as Relikh is yet another one of those fighters that is ranked HIGHLY by the World Boxing Association without him having ever shown the kind of talent that is deserving of him being ranked at No.1.

You’d have to favor Broner to easily whip Burns if that fight comes off. I don’t rate Broner as the #1 or even the #2 fighter in the 140lb division, but I sure as heck see him as a better fighter than Burns. I think it would be an easy win for Broner. Burns is more of a faded paper champion than the real thing. The fact that Burns is the WBA’s champion at light welterweight speaks more about the WBA’s poor rankings than it does about Burns being a champion level fighter at this point in his career.

Recently, the WBA’s rankings have made little sense. I mean, the WBA previously had little known Italian Michele Di Rocco rated No.1 at the time that Burns fought him for the vacant WBA 140lb title last May in Glasgow, a fight in which Burns won easily by an 8th round knockout. Di Rocco had done zero to deserve the No.1 ranking by the WBA other than beating these five fighters in his five previous fights: Alexandre Lepelley, Kasper Bruun, Ruben Nieto, Istvan Kiss and Ville Piispanen. In other words, Di Rocco had done nothing much of anything to deserve being ranked No.1 by the WBA. Whatever the case, it enabled Burns to win an easy WBA title.

It’s still unclear why the WBA had Di Rocco ranked above guys like John Molina Jr., Rances Barthlemey, Frankie Gomez, and Antonio Orozco. If you’ve seen those fighters in action before and seen Di Rocco fight, you’ll know what I mean in questioning why the WBA had Di Rocco ranked above them. I think all of those guys would beat Burns with ease. I don’t think it would even be a fight.

“We were pretty much there in terms of the deal to fight Broner but because of issues out of the ring we all decided to fight Relikh and try and clear the mandatory before securing the fight against Broner in December,” said Hearn. “Adrien contacted me this week and said he is coming to Glasgow on October 7 to watch the fight and if Ricky defeats Relikh I expect that fight to get made without any problems.”

Broner, 27, has his legal problems behind him now, and he’s ready to fight for another world title. Broner has won his last two fights against 35-year-old Ashley Theophane last April in an eash 9th round knockout and 33-year-old former WBA World light welterweight champion Khabib Allakhverdiev by a 12th round knockout in October 2015. Those were decent but not great wins, but least Broner didn’t get beaten. Broner was soundly beaten by Shawn Porter by a 12 round unanimous decision in June of 2015. The judges scored the fight 114-112, 118-110 and 115-111. I thought the 118-110 score was the more accurate one of the three to show what happened in the fight. I’m not sure which fight the other two judges were watching, as it wasn’t a close contest at all.

Relikh, 26, has an impressive ring record at 21-0, but he’s beaten a bunch of no names. There’s no substance there with his boxing record. Since turning pro in 2011, Relikh has padded his resume with obscure opposition. It’s worked in being pushed to No.1 by the WBA, but there’s no way on earth you can argue that Relikh deserves being ranked in the sport. I think Relikh is about as deserving as the WBA’s No.1 contender at 140 as 34-year-old Di Rocco was when he was ranked No.1 by the WBA last May. At the time of the fight, Di Rocco had a ring record of 40-1-1, 18 KOs. Unfortunately, Di Rocco’s resume was totally padded from top to bottom with weak opposition. Instead of the WBA choosing to rank for talent, they ranked their No.1 contender based on empty wins. Now the WBA is doing it again by ranking Relikh at No.1 instead of arguably more talented contenders that have been facing better opposition. In Relikh’s last 10 fights, he’s beaten the following opposition: Joaquim Carneiro (23-7), Christian Ariel Lopez (18-2-1), Lazaro Santos de Jesus (14-6), Santos Medrano (10-37-3), Giorgi Abramishvili (10-4-1), Ty Gilcrhist (6-3-1), Mikheil Avakyan (18-9-3), Siarhei Kisel (3-1), Pabloe Gassani (16-3) and Artem Ayvazdi (10-3). Yeah, Relikh is unbeaten and has an impressive resume, but just look at the guys that he’s been fighting to pick up that resume.

There’s no way that Relikh should be ranked No.1 with those types of opponents on his record. Honestly, I don’t think Relikh rates a top 100 ranking, much less a No.1 ranking by the WBA. If all you’re doing is fighting fodder for three solid years, then you shouldn’t be ranked No.1. I’m just saying. If all you’re doing is taking basket weaving in school, shouldn’t be given a PhD. The WBA needs to think about how their rankings are perceived by the boxing public. When they rank guys with padded resumes and little talent at No.1, it’s bad for the sport, because it allows faded fighters like Ricky Burns to pick up titles and hold onto them. If the WBA had their act together, Burns would have had to fight a talented fighter like Frankie Gomez or Rances Barthlemey for the WBA 140lb title last May.

I think Burns would have lost to either of those guys. I doubt that it would have been competitive at all. Those guys can actually fight. I think Burns is on the downside of his career and has been since he took a beating at the hands of Jose Gonzalez in May 2013. Burns outlasted Gonzalez in that fight to get the win via a 9th round stoppage, but he took a lot of vicious head shots in that fight. When Burns returned to the ring in his next fight against Raymundo Beltran in September 2013, he got a controversial 12 round draw in Glasgow. Burns suffered a broken jaw early in that fight and held the last 10 rounds. I had Beltran winning 10 rounds to 2. It was considered a robbery in the eyes of a lot of boxing fans, as they felt that Beltran should have won easily.

In Burns’ fights since then, he lost to Terence Crawford, Dejan Zlaticanin and Omar Figueroa. Burns’ promoter Eddie Hearn backed him off of fighting quality opposition since then and has had him fighting Prince Ofotsu, Josh King and Di Rocco. Not surprisingly, Burns has won his last three fights, but he’s not found Ponce De Leon’s fountain of youth. It’s just a case of Hearn putting Burns in with weak opposition with inflated rankings, and he’s started winning again. It’s the same Burns that lost to Crawford, Zlaticanin and Figueroa Jr. There’s no improvement. If anything, you can argue that Burns isn’t even the same fighter he was when he lost to Crawford three years ago. It doesn’t matter that Burns has aged. He’s fighting such poor opposition that he can still win.

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