Mod­est Burns en­ters the his­tory books af­ter third world ti­tle win

Rick­ster has sights set on Las Ve­gas af­ter claim­ing WBA light-wel­ter­weight strap

The Herald - Herald Sport - - BOXING - STE­WART FISHER

SOME box­ers pro­claim their great­ness be­fore they have set foot in the ring. Ricky Burns, on the other hand, de­nies his own unique­ness even when pre­sented with in­con­tro­vert­ible ev­i­dence to the con­trary. It was en­tirely typ­i­cal that this mod­est, like­able 33-year-old from Coat­bridge should shrug off the sug­ges­tion that he had en­tered this coun­try’s pan­theon of box­ing greats af­ter beat­ing Italy’s Michele di Rocco to be­come Scot­land’s first-ever three-weight world cham­pion.

“Not at all,” said Burns. “Hon­estly, I am just one of the lads in the gym. It is an­other belt for my wee boy when he gets older. And an­other belt for me, so that when I am back down in Es­sex train­ing for the next fight, when they are all wind­ing me up and call­ing me the old vet­eran, I can turn out with three world ti­tles.”

Ev­ery­one by now surely knows the story about Burns’ wilder­ness years. The costly le­gal wran­gle which en­sued when he left for­mer pro­moter Frank War­ren and joined Ed­die Hearn’s Match­room sta­ble. The three de­feats in six fights prior to Satur­day night’s maiden pro­fes­sional box­ing show at the SSE Hy­dro, and how he has sac­ri­ficed family time to de­camp to Es­sex to work un­der trainer Tony Sims and spar with some of the best young tal­ents in box­ing, guys like Conor Benn, son of ‘90s leg­end Nigel.

All those stair ses­sions down the beach at Leigh on Sea, not to men­tion a train­ing ex­er­cise known only as the ‘dreaded tri­an­gle’, paid off with a vengeance on Satur­day night as Burns pro­duced a bravura per­for­mance to take care of Di Rocco, a 34-year-old from As­sisi who had only fought twice out­side of Italy and was also tast­ing his first World ti­tle shot. A rau­cous Glas­gow crowd chanted ‘Easy, Easy’ and the fighter him­self was left with the same abid­ing feel­ing after­wards. But, as a very wise man once said, you can only beat what is in front of you.

“When the ref­eree stopped it I couldn’t be­lieve what was hap­pen­ing,” said Burns. “I couldn’t be­lieve how easy it was. The plan was to stick to box­ing in the first half then go out and stick it on him but the first round Tony said I could do this all night and he would still not be able to get to me. He said he was so flat footed all I had to do was use my feet.

“All the train­ing paid off,” he added. “When I’m down there, I’m away from all the dis­trac­tions. It’s hard be­ing away from my family but I try to come home ev­ery two weeks.”

In the short term, Burns went off into the night, vow­ing to or­der fast food – “We’ll hit the city cen­tre, find the near­est McDon­ald’s and or­der up a Big Mac meal and 20 chicken nuggets,” he said but in box­ing terms he is al­ready lick­ing his lips about the feasts which the light wel­ter­weight divi­sion has to of­fer for a world cham­pion. Adrien Broner’s peo­ple have al­ready been on the phone, a re­match against Omar Figueroa is plau­si­ble, Ar­gentina’s Lu­cas Matthysse is an­other op­tion, while the classy Ter­ence Craw­ford takes on Ukraine’s Vik­tor Postal in a uni­fi­ca­tion bout in July. Burns is likely to re­turn to the ring in Septem­ber/ Oc­to­ber and is in a hurry to take on the best. “I said to Ed­die Hearn right af­ter the fight that I want to go af­ter the fun,” he said. “If I’m go­ing to fight, I want to fight against the top names.”

The other star of the show, on a night where there were nu­mer­ous fine per­for­mances lit­tered the un­der­card, was the Hy­dro it­self. Joe Ham and Char­lie Flynn moved onto eight un­beaten, Bri­tish light­weight cham­pion Scott Car­dle made it 21 with­out de­feat, while 37-year-old Willie Li­mond gave it ev­ery­thing against Ty­rone Nurse be­fore a ninth-round stop­page which in all like­li­hood will sig­nal his re­tire­ment. An ap­par­ent re­birth of the sport in this county is an­other thing to be fac­tored in as Ed­die Hearn con­sid­ers his next move for Burns.

“The venue is sen­sa­tional,” said Hearn. “That is one of the big lures of com­ing back here. But if you are talk­ing about Adrien Broner, we would travel to the States for that. Ricky has al­ready boxed [Omar] Figueroa in Texas – and he would fight him again any­where. But now that he’s cham­pion, he has op­tions.

“Broner’s guys have al­ready sent con­grat­u­la­tions, which means: ‘We’ll be in touch’,” he added. “They can make all the of­fers they want. We’ll lis­ten. If they want to come with a sack load of money for Ricky to de­fend his ti­tle against Broner in Ve­gas, I’m sure there a few Scots who would like a trip there.” “I’d be one of them!” said Burns.

Typ­i­cally the Coat­bridge man was starstruck at his mo­ment of glory, be­ing sure to get his photo taken with Michael Buf­fer, the fa­mous US ring an­nouncer whose ‘Let’s get ready to rum­ble’ de­liv­ery is mim­icked all across the globe. “When I got in the ring after­wards, I shouted at Ricky: “You’ve done it, you’ve done it!” said Hearn. “He looked at me and said: “Can you get me a pic­ture with Michael Buf­fer?”

HIS­TORY: Ricky Burns sends Michele Di Rocco to the can­vas to be­come Scot­land’s first-ever three-weight box­ing world cham­pion. Pic­ture: SNS

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