As he prepares for what promoter Eddie Hearn has described as ‘the biggest fight of his career’ against Mexican Raymundo Beltran this evening, Ricky Burns has insisted he has learnt the lessons from his recent victory against Jose Gonzalez.
Burns mounts the fourth defence of his WBO lightweight title at the SECC in Glasgow tonight having successfully made the transition from super-featherweight, where he made three defences of his WBO crown.
But after his lucky escape back in May when Puerto Rican Gonzalez quit on his stool despite boasting a commanding lead on all the judges’ scorecards, Burns knows he will have to box clever to get past the experienced Beltran. “When I watched the fight back, Jose Gonzalez was a lot better technically than we thought he was going to be,” he said. “We were expecting him to come out firing and trying to drag me into a fight, your typical Latin American fighter who wants to come out and set the pace and pour it on to you.
“But after watching it back, he was on the back foot a lot more than I thought he’d be. I was lunging in and trying to force the pace and looking back now, I can see what I should’ve done.”
Burns added: “For this fight, we’ve gone back to basics a bit and we’re making sure that doesn’t happen again. I think I have learnt more from that fight than I would had I just walked through him and knocked him out early. I’ve watched Raymundo box a few times and I’ve got a DVD of him. We’ve been working on a plan we think will work.”
Boasting a record of just two defeats in his 38 fights to date, tonight’s fight pits Burns against one of trainer Freddie Roach’s famous stable, who has also acted as Manny Pacquiao’s erstwhile sparring partner over the last decade. The 30-year-old from Coatbridge was hailed as “Scotland’s greatest fighter of all-time” by Hearn in the build-up to his latest defence given his recent victories over Gonzalez and England’s Kevin Mitchell.
However after seeing Burns tip the scales at 9st 8lb 4oz, with the challenger nine ounces heavier, former WBC lightweight champion Jim Watt was critical of the timing of that pronouncement.
“I think it is a silly thing to say and I will tell you why – that’s what backfires on Ricky Burns,” he said. “If Eddie says the most successful fighter then fine, we will go along with that because you can measure title defences and money but don’t say he is the best ever because people remember Benny Lynch, Walter McGowan, Ken Buchanan, Jackie Paterson and you can put me on the list if you like. They don’t want people to say Ricky Burns is better than those guys.
“Ricky would be the last man in the world to say that, and putting that out to people is not doing Ricky any good.Make him the most successful fighter ever and I will take my hat off to him because nobody deserves it more,” Watt added.
Beltran has been defeated six times in his career but boasts three successive victories over Alejandro Rodriguez, Kim Ji-hoon and Henry Lundy in the last 12 months. That makes him a genuine challenger to Burns’ ambitions of setting up a future showdown with WBC champion Adrien Broner in the United States, although a relaxed-looking Scottish fighter is confident he can finish the job after easily making the weight yesterday.
“This is always the worst thing about the whole camp, making the weight, but I made it a lot more comfortably than I did the last time,” Burns said.
“When I woke up this morning I still was able to have something to eat and a coffee and I arrived here with a smile on my face rather than not wanting to talk to anybody.”