6 years ago it would be hard to imagine that Ricky Burns would be labelled a three-weight world champion.
It is a year and a month or so that Burns beat Roman ‘Rocky’ Martinez on points to claim his first world title – WBO Super Featherweight – in what was considered a significant upset at the time.
Burns enjoyed a successful run, winning the WBO Lightweight title, but that seemed to be coming to an end when he was fortunate to escape with a retirement victory over Jose A. Gonzalez – when the Puerto Rican sited an injury after Burns 40-5-1(14KO’s) seemed to have broken his heart.
Burns’ own heart was tested to the brink once again in his next defence, breaking his jaw before a fortuitous draw, thus keeping his title against the unfortunate Raymundo Beltran.
The inevitable defeat came in his next fight when he lost on points to the extremely talented Terence Crawford (L UD 12).
That was followed up by a shock defeat – at the time – to Dejan Zlaticanin (L SD 12). But losing to the unknown Montenegrin doesn’t look half as bad since Dejan has gone on to win the WBC Lightweight title.
Defeat to Omar Figueroa Jr (L UD 12) saw a spirited effort, but it seemed that the trip to America was a sign that Burns may be cashing in before his career came to a close.
But his performance only spurred Burns on, landing him a vacant shot at the WBA Light Welterweight title.
Michele Di Rocco had a fine record coming in, but had not fought his career at the level that Burns had competed. After 7 rounds of dominance Burns halted the gutsy Di Rocco in the 8th.
Now Burns fights again at The SSE Hydro in Glasgow, defending against the unbeaten mandatory challenger, Kiryl Relikh 21-0(19KO’s).
At 33, Burns is 7 years Relikh’s senior, and the Belarusian has not garnered the experience one would imagine he needs to take on a seasoned operator like Burns.
But he has earned the right to take aim at the WBA title, and being such an unknown quantity, it will be hard for Burns to prepare himself for the challenge.
It seems that Relikh is a less-refined version of Zlaticanin. He shoots up with punches from low angles, and seems wild at times, but he is effective all the same.
His power has been poignant at a lower level, so that must be something that Burns will be wary of throughout the contest. If he is caught flush and dropped early, then the confidence will exude from the visitor, and will be tough to shake.
But the feeling is that Relikh just isn’t polished enough to really challenge Burns in a world title fight.
It will be hard for Relikh to reel in his enthusiasm when he lands clean on Burns, and that will cost him in the second half of the contest.
Having never been past round 8, Relikh will tire, and with the power to hurt the challenger late on, Burns will force a stoppage in round 10 of a rather dominant but entertaining maiden defence.
An interesting undercard sees Dillian Whyte 18-1(14KO’s) take his second shot at the vacant British Heavyweight title.
But this one should bring the success that his first didn’t, when he was halted in 7 rounds of an exhilarating contest with Anthony Joshua.
Whyte went toe-to-toe with Joshua, and gave as good as he got in the early stages before Joshua gradually took over.
Now he faces another fellow Londoner who can talk-the-talk himself.
Ian Lewison 12-2-1(8KO’s) is a big puncher, but in a 7-year career the 35-year old has shown little consistency.
He has been upset twice on points by Colin Kenna and Derric Rossy, but holds wins in his toughest bouts against Tom Dallas (TKO 2) and last time out in China he demolished the unbeaten but untested Zhi Yu Wu in 2 rounds.
If Lewison is on form then he can give Whyte a tough test, but Whyte’s unanimous decision win over David Allen proved that he is a smart boxer as well as a good fighter.
Whyte will need to be smart here – a shootout with Lewison could end badly. If he keeps his cool, then Lewison can be tamed before being halted in the 6th.
Scott Cardle 20-0-1(6KO’s) can make another successful defence of his British Lightweight title in more convincing fashion than recent victories.
Kevin Hooper 19-3(4KO’s) is the opponent who should manage to hear the final bell.
For the particulars on the fight as regards time and where to watch it – here’s what you need to know:
Fight Time: Coverage starts of the event from 8pm
TV Channel: Sky Sports 2
Live Stream Info: Sky Go
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