Late show for Ricky Burns
Our expert Simon Crawford thinks Ricky Burns will chalk up a late stoppage victory over Raymundo Beltran at the weekend.
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Scotland's reigning WBO lightweight champion Ricky Burns was forced to show all his fighting qualities to retain his title for a third time against dangerous Puerto Rican Jose Gonzalez back in May.
The Scot was behind on points when Gonzalez failed to come out for the 10th round in Glasgow complaining of a hand injury. It turned out to be a broken wrist - an injury which has kept him sidelined ever since.
It was certainly a wake-up call for the likeable Burns, 30, and I don't see him making the same sluggish start when he takes on Raymundo Beltran at the weekend, again on home soil in Glasgow.
Mexican Beltran, 32, has won 28 and lost six of his 34 bouts, most of which have taken place in the USA, and he is determined to make the most of his first world title shot after a childhood dominated by poverty.
The Mexican, the sparring partner of the legendary Manny Pacquiao, has only been stopped twice (2008, 2001) but his list of opponents should hardly strike fear into the heart of Burns (36-2 11KOs) who has operated at a much higher level against the likes of Roman Martinez, Michael Katsidis and British rival Kevin Mitchell.
The arrival of a baby son is added incentive for Burns who is targeting a unification clash with IBF champion Miguel Vazquez if he is successful.
The champion claims he has gone back to basics in his training camp to eradicate the mistakes made against Gonzalez and I think sheer fitness will tip the scales in his favour.
"Beltran hasn't come over here for nothing and he has not been one of the chief sparring partners of Manny Pacquiao for nothing," said Burns.
"I know I am going to have to bring my A-game.
"He likes to get involved in a bit of a war but that doesn't bother me.
"There will be times when In have to dig deep and stand my ground."
Burns likes to wear opponents down and I think that a combination of his own accurate work and Beltran possibly putting too much into the early rounds will see the Scot take over in the second part of the fight.
As all Mexican fighters are, Beltran is teak tough and punches hard with both hands. But he will struggle in the latter stages and with that in mind I'm taking the 5/1 being offered by Ladbrokes for Burns to win between rounds 7-12.