Tom Gray

Britain’s best pick Ricky Burns to top Terence Crawford

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American hotshot Terence Crawford has flown across the Atlantic with the sole intention of dethroning WBO lightweight titleholder Ricky Burns and the official betting line suggests that he will do just that this Saturday night.

The Omaha, Neb., native is 22-0 (16 knockouts) and has honed a formidable skillset since turning professional in 2008. He is also an educated switch hitter, who can match the Scotsman for size, but a plethora of past and present British stars believe Burns’ huge edge in world title experience could be key.

“Sometimes emotions can cloud your judgment,” said former IBF middleweight titleholder Darren Barker. “You get caught up in supporting home fighters, which messes with your head a little. That said Ricky has been there and done it and is desperate to prove he’s a true champion.”

Barker makes a solid point in relation to the bias which can interfere with an authentic analysis, but another world class technician was keen to dismiss home fighter prejudice, when it came to his own reasoning.

“Ricky has the style to cause Crawford real problems and I’m not being biased,” said Scott Quigg, THE RING No. 6 rated junior featherweight. “It’s easy to get caught up in the hype, but the only world level American, in recent memory, who came over here and did the business was Tim Bradley (when he beat Junior Witter in 2008).”

The truth probably lies somewhere in between. Crawford, unquestionably talented, is highly touted for a reason and looks to carry finesse and force in equal measure. Burns, now fully recovered from the broken jaw he sustained during the Raymundo Beltran bout, is hungrier than ever and represents the most formidable challenge of Crawford’s career to date.

With all that in mind ten of Britain’s finest offer their own observations before the combat coalesces within a Glasgow prize ring.

 

Alex Arthur

Former WBO super featherweight titleholder

I can’t call the fight officially as yet because I haven’t seen enough build up.

Hypothetically, if Ricky is at 110 percent and there are no physical or mental scars from the Beltran fight, then I think he wins this. Crawford may have been a top amateur but, for me, he looks like he’s still learning in the professional game and is trying to discover his identity.

We know what Ricky does and most of the time that works very well. I’m slightly concerned because Crawford can match him for reach, but this is a winnable fight for Ricky, if he’s at the top of his game.

Prediction: No Official Pick

 

Darren Barker

Former IBF middleweight champion

Terence Crawford is a really good fighter, but if Ricky Burns comes up with his best performance then I think he can win this one.

Sometimes emotions can cloud your judgment and you get caught up in supporting home fighters, which messes with your head a little. That said Ricky has been there and done it and is desperate to prove he’s a true champion.

Not only is Ricky a talented fighter but he’s extremely tough and Crawford will find that out in a hurry. If the Americans think they’re over here for an easy night’s work then they could be in for a shock, because when Ricky is on point he’ll take some beating.

Prediction: Burns on points

 

Tony Bellew

Two time world title challenger, ranked No. 9 by THE RING at light heavyweight

Ricky Burns wins this fight because he’s got more experience. Terence Crawford is very talented, but I think it might be a touch too early for him.

The results of Ricky’s hard work and dedication will be on display and, although he’s been below par in his last two fights, due to circumstances out with his own control, he knows the pressure is on this time.

Ricky knows how good Crawford is but I think he’s going to do it.

Prediction: Burns by late stoppage or points

 

Nathan Cleverly

Former WBO light heavyweight titleholder, ranked No. 8 by THE RING at light heavyweight

This is a tough fight for Ricky Burns.

Crawford is skillful, slick and has that Americanized style of counterpunching, which will be difficult to solve. You also have to factor in that Ricky is coming off a brutal fight against Beltran, and one wonders if he’s mentally scarred from sustaining a broken jaw.

Still I think Ricky Burns is out to prove a point. The Glasgow crowd and the atmosphere in that arena is going to drive him on to victory, the same way it did when he beat Roman Martinez for his first world title.

This will be an action packed fight for twelve rounds and I see Ricky’s hunger, desire and fitness bringing him through.

Prediction: Burns on points

 

Ricky Hatton

Former WBA, IBF and RING Magazine Jr. Welterweight Champion

You have to give Ricky Burns credit for taking on Terence Crawford because this is probably the most dangerous fighter in the lightweight division.

Ricky does have a difficult task ahead, but he has mixed at a very high level over the last few years and has gained bundles of experience. Also, the wars he’s been through will stand him in good stead, because I think he’ll have to come through the pain barrier in order to win this one.

I think Ricky can win a close decision and I’m doubtful the broken jaw will be an issue. I have so much admiration for him, because he has been competing at the top for such a long time and now he’s taking on the toughest challenge in his weight class.

He’s great for Scottish boxing and for our sport.

Prediction: Ricky Burns on points

 

Enzo Maccarinelli

Former WBO cruiserweight titleholder

Terence Crawford is the type of fighter who will cause Ricky Burns trouble, but ultimately I see Ricky’s boxing ability and his superb gas tank pulling him through.

Prediction: Burns on points

 

Kevin Mitchell

Ranked No. 6 by THE RING at lightweight

If Ricky Burns is on form then I think he retains his title. However, if Ricky performs to the same level that he did against Beltran and Gonzalez then Crawford wins this fight.

Prediction: Burns on points

 

Martin Murray

Ranked No. 6 by THE RING at middleweight

I’m not that well versed on Terence Crawford, but I’m aware that he’s a quality opponent, so this is likely to be a very tough fight.

Despite that I still fancy Ricky Burns to put on a good performance and secure a close decision victory.

Prediction: Burns on points

 

Scott Quigg

Ranked No. 6 by THE RING at Jr. Featherweight

The popular belief is that the Jose Gonzalez and Raymundo Beltran fights will have taken something out of Ricky Burns, but I disagree completely. I think they will make him even better.

Beltran should have been given the decision in September, but for Ricky to go through the pain of a broken jaw and take that fight to points was a victory in itself. There are a lot of fighters out there who simply could not do that.

Ricky has the style to cause Crawford problems and I’m not being biased. It’s easy to get caught up in the hype, but the only world level American, in recent memory, who came over here and did the business was Tim Bradley (when he beat Junior Witter in 2008).

If Ricky can match him on the jab and work in the one twos then I believe he wins this fight and that is what his team will be working on. If Crawford is the real deal then Ricky will be in trouble, but I’m not a believer.

People are keen to write Ricky off because of his last two fights but if you put Jose Gonzalez in with Crawford, or any other top lightweight, then believe me, he’ll give any of them trouble. I admire Ricky so much because he never gives up and the Beltran fight proved it again.

This will be a cracking fight and Ricky Burns can do the job.

Prediction: Burns on points

 

Lee Selby

British and European featherweight champion

It’s a tough fight for Ricky but his experience and work rate leads me to believe that he could earn himself a late stoppage.

Crawford is well schooled and he’s a good counterpuncher, but this will be his first time outside the USA and you don’t know how he’s going to react. He’ll be fighting in front of 10,000 Scottish fans who will be screaming for Ricky and that’s got to have an effect on him.

Prediction: Burns by late stoppage

 

British fans can see Ricky Burns versus 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

 

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