GLASGOW – Ricky Burns would never look past an opponent but few critics believe that the champion’s next assignment is as dangerous as the ones which presumably lie ahead.
On Wednesday at the Marriott Hotel the WBO lightweight title fight between Burns and experienced Mexican campaigner Raymundo Beltran was officially announced for September 7th at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre in Glasgow.
“I’ve not seen any footage of Beltran,” admitted Burns. “To be honest I don’t like watching opponents anyway but I’m going to make an exception this time. Next week I’m due to get some DVD’s and I’ll check out one or two of his fights.”
“I know he’s a very good operator who has beaten some excellent competition and he has also worked with Manny Pacquiao in sparring. If he’s in with guys of that caliber then we know I need to be on my game come fight night.”
“I’ll treat the fight the same as I always do and react accordingly when the bell rings. We’ve started camp and I jumped right in at the deep end with hard sparring because I’m determined to do better than I did in my last fight.”
Burns, THE RING’s No. 3 at lightweight, was in the process of making believers out of the remaining critics when he ran head first into the dangerous Puerto Rican, Jose Gonzalez, on May 11th in a tense spring night in Glasgow.
The mandatory challenger gave Burns (36-2, 11 knockouts) all he could handle in a superb showdown before submitting at the end of the ninth round with an alleged injury to his right wrist.
This reporter felt Burns was holding his own, prior to the corner retirement, but that was a minority opinion and serious questions are now being asked of the two-weight world champion, who was hurt more than once during the violent encounter.
“Gonzalez was a superb fighter and a lot trickier than we expected,” Burns told Ring TV.com. “I went out and got the win but I was forcing the action too much and getting clipped on the counter. I could have boxed a lot more but I was simply too aggressive.”
“That said, Gonzalez is one to watch. A lot of people underestimated him although we knew it was going to be a tough fight. He’s a big puncher who didn’t get his mandatory position for nothing and he was also technically excellent.”
“It’s also worth remembering that I had been training for nine months (due to two prior fights falling through) and it felt like the longest camp ever. Mentally I just couldn’t wait to get the fight over with but thankfully I pulled through and I’ve had a good rest.”
Burns has recently been linked to a new threat by the name of Terence Crawford, the hard-punching battler from Omaha. Just over a week ago Crawford scored a one-punch knockout of Alejandro Sanabria and he is currently the Scotsman’s number one challenger.
On the flipside Crawford is undefeated in twenty-one outings but the majority of his opposition has been undistinguished and Breidis Prescott is the only recognizable name on his resume.
“I’ve heard of Crawford but I haven’t seen him fight and I can only take on one opponent at a time,” said Burns. “People are talking about New York in January but I have a tough job ahead of me in September and I have to get past this one first.”
For a little over a year there was also talk of a match-up between Burns and US pound-for-pound entrant Adrien Broner.
Unfortunately a fight between the two failed to materialize so “The Problem” jumped up to welterweight and, last Saturday, snatched the WBA crown from Paulie Malignaggi in a somewhat listless affair.
“I’ve not seen that fight either,” laughed Burns. “I’m in the process of moving house and my wife is in the late stages of her first pregnancy so I’ve not had a minute.”
“From what people have been saying, Adrien could have done a better job but he got the win. He’s a three-time world champion in three weight divisions and that’s all that matters.”
Burns remains on target for some very significant business at 135 pounds but if the Gonzalez fight taught him anything, it is to expect the unexpected. The talented Scot will be a big favorite to retain his title but the challenger has waited an entire career for this opportunity and will arrive in Scotland super motivated to do battle.
Beltran (28-8, 17 KOs) resides in Phoenix, Ariz., and has been impressive in his three most recent victories over Henry Lundy, Ji-Hoon Kim and Alejandro Rodriguez.
British fans can see Ricky Burns vs. Raymundo Beltran live on Sky Sports 1 HD (Channel 401). Tickets are available from www.matchroomboxing.com
Photos: Scott Heavey-Gettyimages
Tom Gray is a member of the British Boxing Writers’ Association and contributes to various publications. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing