Boxing: Ricky Burns backed to unnerve Terence Crawford in ‘bear pit’

 

Terence Crawford’s bravado will be tested to the full against WBO lightweight champion Ricky Burns at Glasgow’s SECC tonight, according to fight promoter Eddie Hearn.

The unbeaten American has carried around with him this week an air of disdain about the 30-year-old champion while claiming he will not be fazed by the 10,000 sell-out crowd who will be urging the Coatbridge boxer on to his fifth successful defence of his title.

In yesterday’s weigh-in at the St Enoch shopping centre in Glasgow, Crawford was revealed to be 9st 8lb 6oz, while Burns tipped the scales at 9st 8lb 4oz, and after the two fighters came apart following the head-to-head photo opportunity the challenger made a slit-throat gesture to the crowd.

With all the preamble over, Hearn looked forward to seeing how Crawford, the 26-year-old from Nebraska with 16 stoppages in 22 wins, copes with what will be a Glaswegian bear pit when the two boxers get down to business.

“We live and work in a sport that is full of hype and there is a lot of hype around Terence Crawford,” said Hearn.

“We know he has got serious talent but until he is put into that environment with a top-class fighter and one of the most partisan atmospheres you will ever encounter, you don’t know how he is going to react. And these are all the things that make it  fascinating.

“He may be very special and he may be cool as a cucumber and just walk out and it might not affect him. But I don’t think that is physically possible and that is why we worked so hard to get the fight here because I think it is a huge advantage.

“Ricky is the underdog going into this fight so that changes the crowd mentality completely and that is what will make the atmosphere so special.

“I said from the get-go, he doesn’t want to be in Glasgow. He is used to fighting in Las Vegas and New York where everyone says, ‘Oh Terence, you are amazing’.

“Now he has turned up in Glasgow, it is pouring down with rain and he is going to get booed by 10,000 people. He isn’t going to enjoy that.

“Let’s see when the going gets tough, after seven or eight rounds, when he is a little bit tired and he doesn’t want to be there and everyone is booing him.

“How bad does he want it? Because I know how badly Ricky Burns wants it.”

Hearn, however, admitted that Burns, unbeaten in seven years, will have to find his top form if he is to retain his belt.The Scot was struggling against Jose Gonzalez in May until the Puerto Rican quit, and against Ray Beltran in September he controversially earned a draw after having his jaw broken in the second round.

“I think it is Ricky’s toughest challenge yet,” said Hearn. “I think his performances against Kevin Mitchell [2012] and Roman Martinez [2010] were fantastic.

“The Gonzalez performance was poor, as was the one against Beltran, but he broke his jaw in the second round so you can discount that one.

“I think he needs to rediscover the Martinez and Mitchell form to beat Terence Crawford.”

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