We may have seen the end of Ricky Burns’ career tonight with him losing a 12 round split decision to visiting fighter Dejan Zlaticanin (19-0, 13 KO’s) at the Braehead Arena, in Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom. The judges scored the fight 115-113, 115-113 for Zlaticanin, and 115-113 for Burns.
Zlaticanin shocked the Scottish crowd in the opening round when he connected with a beautiful left hook that smashed into Burns’ jaw, sending him down on the canvas. Burns was hurt but somehow he was able to make it back to his feet and make it out of the round. Zlaticanin pasted him with two additional big left hooks to the head similar to the first one before the round ended. Burns was able to take them because he was bracing for the shots.
After the 1st round, the fight settled into a pattern where Zlaticanin stalked Burns around the ring, tagging him with big left hooks to the head and smashing him with powerful body shots.
Burns began to do a lot of backing up and holding each time Zlaticanin would come at him trying to land. It looked like Burns had no confidence that he could take the left hooks from Zlaticanin because was backing up far too much in the fight instead of standing his ground and trying to get the better of him with combinations.
It wasn’t difficult for Burns to land his shots against the 5’6″ Zlaticanin, as he was there to be hit. The problem that Burns had was he kept getting tagged by big shots that snapped his head frequently when they would land. Burns would then retreat to the ropes instead of firing back combinations like he used to do earlier in his career.
In rounds 10 through 12, Burns used a lot of movement and seemed to develop a system where he land and then grab Zlaticanin before he could get his own shots off. It seemed to work well for Burns, but it was ugly to watch because of how negative it was. He was basically trying to steal rounds instead of meeting Zlaticanin head on.
After the fight, Burns’ promoter Eddie Hearn looked like a defeated man as he mentioned that Burns might have to go back to the domestic level. Hearn didn’t mention anyone specific that he’d like to match Burns with but you’ve got to figure that guys like Anthony Crolla, Derry Mathews, Kevin Mitchell and Willie Limond might be what’s in store for Burns in the near future unless he declines those fights or retires. At this point I don’t know if Burns could beat any of those fighters because they’d be on him throwing a lot more punches than Zlaticanin did tonight, and with Burns unable to stand his ground, he’d lose rounds.