Ricky Burns will go into the fifth defense of his WBO lightweight title as the underdog this Saturday night, when he meets unbeaten American star Terence Crawford, but promoter Eddie Hearn is convinced that the Scottish stylist carries more than one ace up his sleeve.
“I get more confident that Ricky Burns wins this fight the closer it gets,” said Hearn. “Ricky is in a great place at the moment and his sparring has been brilliant. He’s worked with Kevin Mitchell, Luke Campbell and Lee Selby, to name but a few, and no stone has been left unturned in his preparation.
“In prior camps Ricky seemed to be taking too much out of himself, whereas this time he’s going to be fresh and ready for battle. He’s aware of the task that lies ahead and, although it’s a really tough fight, I think Ricky is more than ready for the challenge.”
Burns, THE RING No. 3 at 135 pounds, has bags of experience and the sum of his parts equal a proud and resolute athlete. The Scotsman is a two weight world titlist who can trade for twelve torrid rounds and his will to win is truly remarkable.
In September Burns retained his title with a hotly disputed draw, against Raymundo Beltran, but gallantly completed the championship distance, with a badly broken jaw and not once did he consider leaving the battlefield.
Crawford, THE RING No. 8 rated lightweight, doesn’t come close to matching Burns in terms of warrior wisdom, but the American’s switch hitting style and smooth skills are what have many fans believing that a new champion is waiting in the wings.
“Look Crawford has never fought outside of the US and on Saturday he’s stepping out in front of 10,000 Scottish fans,” said Hearn. “The guy won’t know what’s hit him but, on the flipside, he might live up to the hype and be absolutely brilliant.
“I’m just not a believer because his best win is against Breidis Prescott, who was easily beaten by Kevin Mitchell among others.”
Recently Bob Arum, promoter of Terence Crawford, spoke with RingTV.com and stated that he expects “a decisive victory”, but his slick British counterpart suggested that Arum is equally unsure about Crawford’s true quality.
Hearn said, “Are the Americans really sending Crawford over here because they think he beats Ricky Burns easily? Or is it a sink or swim mission from Top Rank, where they’re saying if you’re good enough you’ll win and if not – oh well?
It would be natural for the Crawford camp to draw confidence from Burns’ poor showings against both Jose Gonzalez and Raymundo Beltran, but if the diehard Scot is back to his best then that could be a very dangerous mindset.
“I hope Crawford and his team base their research on those two fights,” said Hearn. “I think you’ll see a different Ricky Burns this time around because he’s fully focused and fighting for his career.
“I watched Ricky spar six rounds with Kevin Mitchell and six with unbeaten prospect Martin Ward and by the end of it he was as fresh as a daisy. His engine is unbelievable and that is the area where I believe he will test Crawford the most.
“For me this is the best fight in the lightweight division and it would be a massive win for Ricky. I think he can stop him in the championship rounds.”
Photo / Scott Heavey-Getty Images
British fans can see Ricky Burns vs. Terence Crawford live on Sky Sports 2 HD (Channel 402). The fight is also available through AWE in the United States.
Tom Gray is a member of the British Boxing Writers’ Association and has contributed to various publications. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing