Boxing: Burns looking to battle his way into the limelight with third defence

In many ways Ricky Burns has become a victim of British boxing's raised profile over the past few years as Ricky Hatton, Joe Calzaghe, Carl Froch, Amir Khan and David Haye have all taken part in major world title fights.

Burns, 28 and a seasoned professional of 10 years' standing, defends his World Boxing Organisation super-featherweight title for the third time tonight at the Echo Arena in Liverpool, and once again he fights in virtual obscurity.

In the opposite corner tonight will be the former champion, Nicky Cook, who has fought just once in two years and has been in comfortable exile in Tenerife during his time away from the ring. Cook, however, remains a solid fighter, whose only defeats in 32 came in two world title contests, and he is a test for Burns.

"Ricky is a world champion, a quality fighter and for some reasons he has not yet received the attention that he deserves," claimed Frank Warren, who took a tremendous risk last September when he matched Burns against the unbeaten Roman Martinez for the world title. In 2009 Cook was stopped by Martinez.

"Ricky was a massive underdog, was dropped early in the fight and rallied to win in one of the very best performances by a British boxer in many years," Warren added.

Burns, in all fairness, has few domestic rivals and his weight is dominated by other world champions and quality fighters from Japan, Venezuela and South Africa – three particularly low-key boxing nations.

Warren added: "If there was a massive natural rival then I would make the fight. There are a couple of fights on the horizon and Ricky will become a star – it just takes time with some fighters."

The main undercard fight, a lightweight bout between John Murray and Kevin Mitchell, is over 12 rounds for a relatively meaningless Intercontinental bauble, but the reality of their long-overdue fight is the promise of a world title shot later this year. Burns always has the option of gaining four pounds and following the winner into a big fight.

Cook said: "I've heard Ricky moaning about not getting the recognition – well join the club. If he can beat me he will get a bit more respect because his first two defences were not impressive."

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