WBO lightweight holder Ricky Burns will face unbeaten American Terence Crawford March 1 in Glasgow, Scotland, with the home favorite admitting he has it all to prove despite it being his fifth defense.
Since earning a controversial draw against Raymundo Beltran back in September, when he suffered a career-threatening broken jaw early in the contest, many have questioned whether the 29-year-old from Coatbridge can still be considered one of the authentic 135-pound elite.
Indeed Burns, The RING’s No. 4-ranked lightweight, reckons he is something of an underdog against 26-year-old rising star Crawford, the magazine’s number ten.
"I have a point to prove," said Burns (36-2-1, 11 knockouts). "I've had two bad performances, we've made a few changes and some adjustments, we're going to be doing things differently, and fingers crossed we will see a new Ricky Burns on March 1.
"As soon as the jaw injury happened against Beltran I went into survival mode. Everybody knew that something was wrong, even if they didn't know exactly what it was. When the final bell went I wasn't caring about the decision, I just knew that I had done damage.
"The first couple of months after the operation were a nightmare. They told me to watch what I was eating and I could hardly open my mouth, I couldn't speak.
"Everybody is writing me off again with Terence – but that doesn't bother me. I like being the underdog and I can't wait to get back out there again in front of another great Glasgow crowd."
Matchroom supremo Eddie Hearn also recognizes Burns needs to regain the sort of form that enabled him to enjoy such a smooth, seamless step up from the junior lightweight ranks a little over two years ago. But the British promoter is backing his man to deliver the goods against mandatory challenger Crawford (22-0, 16 KOs).
“This is a must-win fight for Ricky and perhaps the toughest of his incredible career," Hearn said. "Ricky is more determined than I've ever seen him and to have that frame of mind after the injury he suffered during the Beltran fight is testament to the type of character and fighter he is.
"Crawford is hot property in the States but we managed to bring him here, out of his comfort zone, and right now Ricky needs the people of Scotland behind him more than ever. March 1 will be a special night at the SECC, the latest chapter of the remarkable Ricky Burns story."
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