Speaking from Newcastle, immediately after a press conference announcing his next fight on March 29th against Paul McClosky, Saunders stated, “Ricky’s a good lad and only boxes against the best. It’ll be a tough fight but with the home crowd behind him and fighting his own fight, he’ll come away with the win”.
On March 1st in Glasgow, Scotland, WBO lightweight champion Ricky Burns defends his title against unbeaten American challenger Terence Crawford.
This is the first fight for Burns, 36 (11) – 2 – 1, since last September’s controversial draw in which he suffered a broken jaw and a bruised reputation, in a fight that most viewers believe he should have lost.
Challenger Crawford, 22 (16) – 0 – 0 from Omaha, Nebraska, has clocked up 23 fights undefeated with 16 coming by way of knockout.
Burns will be a huge step up in class considering that his most notable career highlights to date have been a very one-sided unanimous decision win over Amir Khan conqueror, Breidis Prescott and WBC Silver lightweight champ Alejandro Sanabria.
His last fight against Andrey Kilmov in Orlando saw a mature, slick and stylish performance for Terence Crawford to cruise comfortably to a unanimous decision victory.
The contrast between the pair’s previous fights could not be further apart. Burns was lucky to leave with his title when he fought Ray Beltran in September 2013. Owing to this, it’s possible there could there be a touch of vulnerability and depleted confidence to Rickster when he enters into the ring this weekend.
However, the hard hitting Scot has been a WBO title holder for almost four years and carries all of the qualities that it takes to be a champion, so will not be easily defeated. The fact that Burns has been fighting at championship level since 2008 means that his stature of opponents have been of a high calibre for a long time. His only losses have come in the form of points decisions against reputable Alex Arthur and Carl Johanneson, seven years ago, very early on his respectable career.
Crawford, 26, definitely looks the part at a lean 5’8” with an intimidating 73-inch reach, he has the perfect lightweight build. He is also a gifted boxer-puncher with a decorated amateur background. Everything looks positive but you could have said that about a lot of fighters who inevitably fell flat in their attempt to break into the upper echelons of the sport. However, he certainly looks like one of the best lightweights in the world right now. The boxing world will be open-mouthed in the initial round to see if he has actually got the minerals to carry it at this level.
It’s a fight where it’s almost impossible to predict an outcome, without changing your mind sixteen times. Who thought that it was the young blood’s time to shine when Jeff Lacy challenged Joe Calzaghe in 2006? This fight has a familiar sense to it.
Crawford, fighting outside of the US for the first time ever in front of a hostile Scottish crowd, will need to rip the belt away from the enduring title holder convincingly. This will be a monster of a task against the vastly experienced, durable champion in his home town.
For Burns, he has a strong point to prove to his fans and the rest of the boxing world in this fight. He needs to control the fight from the opening bell and use the several years of experience from the previous 13 years in the practise to teach the young Yank a boxing lesson.
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