Ricky Burns looked in serious danger of losing his WBO world lightweight title to Jose Gonzales in Glasgow last night but the Scot held out for a successful third defence as the previously unbeaten Puerto Rican quit on his stool at the start of the 10th round.
Gonzales, who was something of an unknown quantity, had come out with fluid movement and aggressive intent, despite the braying of a partisan crowd in the Emirates Arena. He was particularly damaging in the seventh round when it looked as if the Scot might see his crown slip.
But the mandatory challenger, who had boasted 17 knockouts in his 22 fights, seemed to tire rapidly and then declined to continue just at the time when it looked as if Burns would need to win the last four rounds in order to get the decision. Gonzalez believed he had sustained a broken wrist.
Afterwards Burns seemed a little dazed and taken aback. “I couldn’t believe how awkward he was,” he said. “I knew that the rounds were close. The round before he pulled out I could tell he was getting tired and so I got my work-rate up.
“He caught me with a few good shots [in the seventh round] but I showed I could take a good shot. So I decided to stand my ground and trade back with him. That’s all I could do. His arms were so long, and maybe I was guilty of over-stretching. I’ll go back to the drawing board.”
Gonzales had traded punches with aplomb during some fierce early exchanges and in the fourth round he landed a right hook to the face of Burns. The home fighter was also caught with a left at the start of the sixth and he was to wobble dangerously under a big right in the seventh.
Thereafter, however, the challenger’s work rate dropped off and there was a suspicion that he might not last the distance. That was to prove the case, though his capitulation was as surprising as the confidence of his earlier impressive efforts.
The 30-year-old Burns should now go on to meet the Mexican IBF champion Miguel Vazquez in a unification fight that was due to be staged in March before the Scot split acrimoniously with promoter Frank Warren.
Thereafter Burns, who also took the world crown at super-featherweight, could attempt to move up to light-welterweight where he could take on the dangerous Adrien Broner, himself looking to move up a division.
Meanwhile at Doncaster Rovers’ Keepmoat Stadium, Jamie McDonnell claimed the vacant IBF bantamweight title against Julio Ceja with a controversial majority decision. The 20-year-old Mexican looked to have done enough to at least stand a chance of winning before scores of 114-114, 115-113 and a remarkable 118-110 handed the fight to the 27-year-old local lad.
“In the first five rounds or so I felt him out and wanted to come on stronger as the fight went on,” said McDonnell. ”I started digging him in the last few rounds and I felt I could have even got the stoppage.”