Back Burns to make it his night

  • By: Simon Crawford
  • Last Updated: February 27 2014, 23:40 GMT

Our Simon Crawford believes Ricky Burns can defy the odds and defend his WBO lightweight title against Terence Crawford in Glasgow this weekend.

Ricky Burns: Can defy the odds and defend his title
Ricky Burns: Can defy the odds and defend his title

The reign of a champion is never an easy one, but for Scotland's Ricky Burns it is rapidly turning into something of a rollercoaster ride.

The WBO lightweight champion made impressive defences of his strap against Paulus Moses who was comprehensively outpointed, before British rival Kevin Mitchell was halted after four action-packed rounds.

But last May, against unbeaten Puerto Rican Jose Gonzalez, 30-year-old Burns was pushed all the way before the challenger was forced to depart at the end of the ninth round because of a damaged left wrist with the contest very much in the balance.

However, an even greater scare came at the hands of Mexico's Raymundo Beltran, back in September,

The three judges scored the contest 115-112 to Burns, 115-113 to Beltran and 114-114, which did not seem to reflect the determined challenger flooring the man from Coatbridge or dislocating the champion's jaw.

Even the most partisan Burns fans was forced to admit that there was injustice in the decision, while the injury the Scot suffered in the second round was so severe that it was initially feared his career could be over.

But not for the first time Burns (36-2-1 11KOs) bounced back from adversity, with successful surgery and a titanium plate fitted to the injured jaw allowing him to carry on.

His reward for all that?

Undoubtedly the biggest test of his stellar career when he faces unbeaten American Terence Crawford in front of a sold-out 10,000 crowd in Glasgow on Saturday night.

The 26-year-old has an impressive 22 wins in the paid ranks, with 16 knockouts, following a glittering amateur career.

He is tipped by many to be "the next big thing" and is regularly likened to pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr so much is expected of the man from Omaha, Nebraska.

Crawford has power in both hands, can switch it, counters with blistering speed and has a three-inch advantage in reach. His defensive head and shoulder movement is outstanding, as is his footwork so certainly all the assets are there.

Although still relatively inexperienced and fighting for the first time outside of the United States, the American's stock really rose when he impressively outpointed Breidis Prescott - conqueror of Amir Khan - almost 12 months ago.

Other significant wins have followed against Alejandro Sanabria and Andrey Klimov so there's no dispute he deserves a world title shot - but has it come too soon for him?

"I knew I would have to come over to Scotland to fight Ricky, I have no problem with that, it's his fifth defence and he's earned the right to fight wherever he wants ... that's cool with me," said Crawford.

"It's definitely my time now, it's been a bit slower than I wanted to get here but I am here now and I am ready to become a world champion, no doubt about it."

Certainly the layers are firmly on the side of the American challenger, and 4/9 is the best you will get on him with Burns as wide as 12/5 with Boylesports.

But I'd like to take the layers on.

Providing Burns has fully recovered from both the physical and mental scars of that scare against Beltran, then I believe he has the tools to keep his belt.

The Scot simply does not know when he is beaten - if there was a man you want in the trenches beside you, then it would be Ricky Burns who has so much heart, grit and bottle.

He punches harder than his record suggests and he has proved in the past that his engine is well suited to a punishing 12 rounds.

The Scot will need to keep the action at close range to nullify Crawford's speed and power and will also have to outwork him.

That is a big ask for 36 minutes - but stamina is another tick in the box for the reigning champion.

"I've heard it's going to be a 10,000 sell-out so it's going to be a great atmosphere," said Burns.

"I'm trying to put everything to the back of my mind. I just want to go out there and do my job and once that bell rings it just comes down to me and him so the best man will win on the night.

"This is going to be a very difficult fight but I couldn't be happier with the preparation has gone. I know what he's going to bring to the table I'm going to be ready for."

I also believe the crowd will have a huge part to play.

They certainly lifted him in his last two fights when he was below-par and can do so again when Burns will have to dig deep - maybe more than once - to see off Crawford's challenge.

It will be close and I can even see Burns maybe getting put on the canvas, but I think he will edge a close points decision so I'm going to take the 4/1 being offered on the Scot to win by decision or technical decision.


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