Promoter Eddie Hearn (left), of Matchroom Boxing, and WBO lightweight titleholder Ricky Burns (right) spoke to RingTV.com about the popular Scottish fighter’s next fight and plans for 2013
Ricky Burns will face Jose “Chelo” Gonzalez in the third defense of his WBO lightweight crown on May 11at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow. The official announcement was made by promoter Eddie Hearn at the city’s Marriott Hotel on Monday.
The undefeated Gonzalez, who hails from Puerto Rico, turned professional in 2008 and has positioned himself as the Scotsman’s mandatory challenger. Thus far his opposition has been undistinguished and Burns (THE RING’s No. 3-rated lightweight) will represent a serious step up in class for the twenty nine year old challenger.
“If the WBO insist that I fight my mandatory then let’s get this one out the way,” Burns told RingTV.com nonchalantly. “I’ve watched some highlights of Gonzalez and he’s a very good fighter with a lot of strength and a big punch. He’s had 17 knockouts in 22 straight wins but a fight is a fight – none of that matters.”
The bout will be Burns’ first under the Matchroom banner, following a highly publicized split from promoter Frank Warren in early March. Warren has since issued legal proceedings against him for damages and alleges that both promotional and managerial contracts remain operational.
“I’m grateful to Frank Warren for where I am today,” remarked Burns. “I’m a two weight world champion but over the last year or so there are things that needed sorting out and nothing has happened. As far as the legal action goes I can’t comment on that.”
Burns would not elaborate on what “needed sorting” but did make the promotional switch after a third consecutive title fight failed to materialize. The postponement of the huge unification clash with IBF titleholder Miguel Vazquez was preceded by the cancellation of bouts with Liam Walsh and Jose Ocampo towards the end of last year.
“Eddie Hearn wants my career to go the same way as we do,” stated the proud Scot in reference to his team. “Matchroom are keen to get the big shows in Glasgow and build on the momentum I gathered when I knocked out Kevin Mitchell. We want these big unification fights on Scottish soil.”
Hearn said: “We considered Gonzalez, Richar Abril, Miguel Vazquez and also approached Golden Boy Promotions in relation to Adrien Broner. As it turns out the WBO have said we must fight Gonzalez or relinquish the title and we want to remain world champion.
“This is an extremely dangerous fight for Ricky, in my opinion his toughest task to date as there is no blue print on how to beat Gonzalez.”
Burns has completed almost six months of full training without a fight and looks to be in tremendous shape. This reporter asked if that could be a hindrance in terms of peaking for his title defense on May 11.
“Not at all,” said Burns without hesitation. “I’ve been working hard but when fights fell through I allowed myself to rest. I’ve started training but we’re seven weeks from fight night and I won’t commence hard sparring for a week so. We can assess things at that point.
“It’s easy enough to take a day or two off if I’m peaking too soon.”
If all goes to plan in May, then Burns will be back out twice more in 2013, most likely September and December. The super tough technician remains firmly focused on unifying at 135 pounds and one got the impression that Miguel Vazquez was still lurking at the back of his mind.
“According to Matchroom that fight is still an option for us” said Burns. “We will speak to the Vazquez people and see if they’re still interested and it could end up in Scotland. Again, one fight at a time, but as long as I keep winning then that fight might still happen.”
Burns cannot and will not look past Gonzalez. The challenger has crunching power, respectable hand speed and the capacity to switch hit. Burns will have been out of action for eight months when the fight takes place and the explosive Puerto Rican might see this as a perfect time to tear up the script.
Photo / Andrew Redington-Getty Images
Tom Gray is a member of the British Boxing Writers’ Association and contributes to various publications. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing