Harry Pratt

Burns to face Walsh, eyes 2013 showdown with Broner

Ricky Burns will defend his WBO lightweight title against English prospect Liam Walsh at the ExCeL Arena, London, on Dec.15, en route to what the Scottish standout hopes will be an anticipated showdown with the winner of the Nov. 17 WBC title bout between beltholder Antonio DeMarco and highly touted American Adrien Broner.

The 29-year-old boxer from Coatbridge, Glasgow, has made no secret of his burning desire to be THE RING’s 135-pound champion and regards taking down Broner, who he obviously believes will beat DeMarco, as one sure way of getting there. His promoter Frank Warren claims a unification bout for the two has been agreed for 2013.

In the meantime, Burns, who has been red-hot since vacating his WBO junior lightweight belt 12 months ago and stepping up a division, can only keep on winning.

So, even if his pre-Christmas date in the Docklands looks the most routine third defense, the fact that Walsh, 26, boasts a perfect 13-fight record and is the new European champ, ensures Burns is taking it seriously.

“Walsh is a good strong fighter, he’s unbeaten and this is his big chance to win the world title. I’ll be in the best shape possible and will leave nothing to chance for this one,” said Burns (35-2, 10 knockouts). “The big motivator is a showdown with Broner, who I was accused of avoiding last year. But since winning the world title my stock and profile has increased. (If) it’s a unification fight, it’s much bigger than before.”

Burns, THE RING’s No. 3-rated lightweight, destroyed Essex contender Kevin Mitchell last month inside four rounds. Walsh, who has only fought at 135 pounds once, admits to being impressed. However, clearly relishing his unexpected opportunity in the spotlight, the man from Cromer, Norfolk, boldly predicts a massive festive shock.

“To fight for the world title is my dream and I’m going to cause a big upset when I take the crown from Burns,” said Walsh (13-0, 10 KOs). “He did a stunning job on Mitchell and he’s in the prime of his career. So, when I beat him, people will know that I’ve beaten the best.”

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