Former WBO lightweight titleholder Ricky Burns wants a shot at WBC beltholder Omar Figueroa before year's end if he gets past undefeated southpaw Dejan Zlaticanin of Montenegro on Friday at Glasgow, Scotland's Braehead Arena live on Sky Sports.
Promoted by Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Sport, Burns (36-3-1, 11 knockouts) turned 31 in April, a month after having been dethroned as WBO beltholder by unbeaten Terence Crawford via unanimous decision at Scottish Exhibition Centre in Glasgow.
Figueroa (23-0-1, 17 KOs), 24, was last in action for a split decision over Jerry Belmontes in April.
"Eddie said that I need to come through this first but if I do, then he'll be pushing for me to fight Figueroa. I believe I have another world title in me. Omar is a good fighter, another southpaw, but I've seen clips of him," said Burns via press release.
"His last defense was a close fight and some people thought he lost it. So it would be a fight that I would be confident going into and the WBC belt is the one that everyone wants to get their hands on. So fingers crossed that I can get through this one and Eddie can work his magic and get me that shot."
Burns jaw was badly broken in his penultimate defense against Raymundo Beltran, a controversial draw, last September, requiring the surgical implantation of titanium plates. Against Zlaticanin (18-0, 13 KOs), Burns will be returning to the site where he fought Beltran.
"A lot of people have said to me, 'Are you moving up to light welterweight?' but 100 percent, I am staying at lightweight. There are some huge fights out there for me at the weight, the rematches with Beltran and Crawford are big ones," said Burns, who would also like a shot at IBF beltholder Miguel Vazquez.
"There's Miguel Vasquez and there's some great British fights too. I make light welterweight too easy and I think that if you are making the weight too easy, you are at the wrong weight. That last couple of pounds to get to lightweight is not fun but I am a lightweight and I'm not going to be moving."
Zlaticanin, 30, of Podgorica, Montenegro, has won four of his past six fights by knockout and was last in action for a first round knockout of Asan Yuseinov in August.
"I haven't watched any footage of Dejan. I know he's undefeated in 18 fights with 13 KOs but I don’t think he's boxed outside his hometown, so you don't really know the level of opponents he's facing. I never put more pressure on myself than I need to. As long as I get the win, that's all that matters. Is Friday a must-win fight? Yes, I suppose so. But that puts more pressure on and when you go in there looking for the big punches to look good, it doesn't happen," said Burns.
"I am just going into this fight and looking to stick to my boxing and if I have get to him and hurt him, I will be looking to close the show. But as long as I win, that's the main thing. I think you will see a different Ricky Burns in the ring. I am happier in the gym. I am in with a great bunch of lads and I've really enjoyed the camp, so I think that will show on Friday."
Burns-Zlaticanin is part of a card that will include junior welterweight Willie Limond pursuing his fourth straight win against Curtis Woodhouse and cruiserweight Stephen Simmons opposite Wadi Camacho.
YURIORKIS GAMBOA FIGHTING FOR POUND-FOR-POUND RECOGNITION VS. CRAWFORD
Former featherweight titleholder Yuriorkis Gamboa (23-0, 16 KOs) contends that a victory over Crawford (23-0, 16 KOs) on Saturday at CenturyLink Center before Crawford's partisan fans in Omaha, Nebraska will bring him pound-for-pound recognition.
"I really don't have anything to prove to anybody but myself," said Gamboa. "My goal has always been to be recognized as one of the best fighters in the world. I don't have to prove anything and only need to make accomplishments for me and my family."
A 32-year-old former Olympic gold medalist for Cuba, Gamboa was last in action for a unanimous decision over previously unbeaten Darleys Perez in June of last year
Crawford-Gamboa represents the first title fight in Omaha since heavyweight champion Joe Frazier beat Ron Stander in 1972. Crawford is the state's first titleholder since Perry “Kid” Graves won the vacant welterweight crown in 1914.