UK Boxing: Ricky Burns; Scott Lawton; Nadeem Siddique

Commonwealth Super-Featherweight Champion Ricky Burns is taking the threat of swine flu so seriously that his boxing gym has been turned into a hospital ward. Burns, 26, trains at a gym in Stepps, but following a sudden increase in cases of the virus in Scotland over the last few days, Burns and his coach Billy Nelson have taken extreme precautions to ensure he is not struck down before his big title fight on June 19. Top talent Burns is preparing to defend his Commonwealth super-featherweight title against Irishman Kevin O’Hara at the Bellahouston Sports Centre in Glasgow..

Under Nelson’s orders the gym is steam cleaned twice a day with disinfectant and Burns has his own training sessions away from the other boxers.

“It’s a worrying time at the moment in Scotland with the latest increases in swine flu cases so we’ve had to take these measures,” said the Coatbridge star.

“My fight against O’Hara is a crucial defence because a potential world title fight could happen if I win so I can’t afford to let anything happen to me before the fight,”

“A specialist cleansing team arrive in the morning before training and thoroughly disinfect the gym and then do the same again in the evening,”

“Old boxing gyms have a distinct smell of leather, sweat and ointment but our gym smell’s more like a hospital ward at the moment,”

“In fact the floor is so clean I could eat my dinner off it!”

And Burns is also taking precautions outside of the gym as he builds up towards the big night.

“I’ve moved into an apartment so I’m on my own and I’m wearing a face mask when I’m out and about,”

“Being an athlete and putting my body through the torturous daily training regime means my immune system can be low and susceptible to viruses so I’m also on a special formulation of vitamins and minerals to give my immunity a boost.

He added, “It may seem extreme but these are the steps I have to take in these times to make sure swine flu doesn’t jeopardize my fight.”

British title means the World to Lawton

Boxing is Scott Lawton’s life but he admits that it’s a life that won’t be complete until he gets his hands on the British Lightweight title. Two time English champion Lawton will challenge John Murray for his Lonsdale belt at the Robin Park Arena in Wigan on Saturday, June 13th and he says he’s desperate to rip the title away from Murray.

The fight headlines a Hennessy Sports event which will be live on ITV4 and while Murray is being tipped for European and possibly World honours Lawton only has one thing in his sights.

“I want that British title, it’s what I’ve dreamed about for the last 19 years since I first put on a pair of gloves,” said the challenger. “It would mean the absolute world to me to win the British title and I’m very confident that I can do it. John’s a very good young fighter but I believe I’m at my peak now and this is my time to take the British title.”

The 32-year-old from Stoke in involved in every aspect of the boxing game from promoting and managing courtesy of his Impact boxing promotional outfit and helping to train his stable mates at his gym in Fenton.

“I eat and sleep boxing, it’s 24/7 for me really,” admits the boxing fanatic. “Even when I don’t have a fight coming up I’m still in the gym every day doing a bit of training or helping the other lads out at the gym. I also do a lot of work in the local schools talking to kids because boxing is such a great sport to keep kids off the streets and out of trouble.”

Lawton has already had one shot at the Lonsdale belt but came up short against then British Lightweight Champion Jonathan Thaxton in 2007. “After the Thaxton defeat I thought my chance at a British title might have come and gone,” recalled Lawton. “I fought Amir Khan for the Commonwealth title after that and it was a great experience but the fight just didn’t go my way.

“I think I was caught in the headlights a bit in those fights but looking back now I think I learned an awful lot from those defeats and I think I’ve proved that in my last few fights.

“I understand the game a lot better now and I’m fighting to my strengths. I’m using my boxing ability now instead of just getting into a fight. I also think I’m a lot stronger mentally and I think that will all stand to me going into this fight.”

Lawton has been in fine form since those back to back losses to Thaxton and Khan winning all six contests and becoming a two time English Champion in the process by halting the rise of promising contender, Martin Gethin.

“I’ve taken a lot of confidence from the Gethin win going into this fight because Martin’s style is quite similar to John’s,” said Lawton. “They’re both pressure fighters and Gethin is very strong like John although he probably doesn’t have as high a workrate.

Lawton is more than familiar with Murray having already sparred with him on a couple of occasions. “If our spars are anything to go by then it’s going to be an entertaining scrap. I really enjoyed the spars, he’s strong and aggressive and I think we’re both very stubborn guys so it should make for an exciting fight because neither of us will back down.

“He probably has a bit more power than me but I believe I’m the better boxer and I think that will be the key on the night. I’m at my best against pressure fighters like John so I think his style will suit me.

“I’m predicting a win but I don’t care how it comes. If it’s on points that’s fine and if it’s a stoppage then that’s a bonus. I know I’m not the biggest puncher in the world but John does tend to mark up a bit around the eyes so that could be a factor as well.”

Lawton says he won’t be making the short journey up the M6 on his own either with the Scott Lawton fanclub expected to be out in force. “I’ll be bringing quite a bit of support with me. My fans have always travelled to support me and Wigan’s only an hour up the road so it should make for a great night and hopefully I can finally get my hands on that Lonsdale belt.”

The chief support at the Robin Park Arena on Saturday, June 13th will feature heavyweight sensation Tyson Fury in his seventh pro fight. Joining Fury on the undercard will be his cousin Phill Fury alongside the return of Light Welterweight contender Nadeem Siddique, hot Featherweight prospect Steve “Super Bad” Barnes and exciting Canadian puncher Andrew Singh Kooner.

“Golden Boy” Siddique looking to sparkle

British Lightweight contender Nadeem “Golden Boy” Siddique returns to action following almost a year out of the ring at the Robin Park Arena in Wigan on Saturday, June 13th as part of the supporting cast to the John Murray – Scott Lawton British title fight.

The Hennessy Sports event is live on ITV4 and Siddique is anxious to make up for lost time while he will also be taking a keen interest in the proceedings in the main event as he eyes a future shot at the winner.

Reigning Central Area champion Siddique has been matched with old foe and current Southern Area Champ Tom Glover as he bids to return to winning ways following the first defeat of his career last July. That setback against Martin Gethin ended a 22 fight winning streak stretching back to his pro debut in 2002.

However the 31-year-old from Bradford is promising to bounce back with a bang in Wigan as he bids to put a frustrating year behind him. “The defeat was hard to take,” admitted Siddique. “To be fair I only took the fight on a days notice and in hindsight I shouldn’t have taken it but I’m not one to go around feeling sorry for myself.

“I had a niggling back injury at the time which kept me out for a while afterwards as well and needed a bit of rest but I’ve been back in the gym for almost 7 months now and I’ve been working, really, really hard.”

Siddique believes that the defeat to Gethin didn’t give a true representation of his ability. “I believe I’m better than that and I can’t wait to prove it. I’m a lot more dedicated now. I’ve always believed in myself and I know that I’m one of the best around. I’ve sparred with champions like Junior Witter, Jamie Moore and Kell Brook so I know I’m capable of performing at the highest level and I don’t see anyone out there to worry me.”

Referring to his friendship with fellow Bradford native and former World Champ Witter Siddique said, “We’ve been friends since we were kids. We went to the same schools, the same gyms as amateurs and professionals and we even shared a house together for a while.

“Junior is one of the straightest people you could meet and he’ll always be honest with you so if he told me I’d found my level then I’d believe him but he believes that I can go all the way. It’s just about getting myself right mentally and preparing the right way.”

Siddique already holds a points win over Glover from 2007 but the Maldon man has improved considerably since then and is on a decent run of form. However with a British title fight at Lightweight headlining the Wigan bill Siddique has all the motivation he needs to repeat his win over Glover.

“To be honest I’m not bothered about the opponent, all I’m concerned about is making sure that I’m right physically and mentally and getting myself back on track for a title fight. I let my opponents worry about me and I concentrate on making sure that I’m the best I can be.

“I know all about Tom Glover anyway and I know exactly what he brings to the table. He’s a decent fighter but as long as I’m right then it doesn’t matter who’s in the opposite corner.”

That also extends to the winner of the main event insists Siddique. “I’d love a title fight after this. It’s those fights that get me motivated and excited and as long as I get the right notice I’d take a British title fight in a heartbeat.

“I think the John Murray and Scott Lawton fight is going to be a really interesting one because Lawton is an underrated fighter. I think people will be surprised at how close it’s going to be because styles make fights and I think Lawton’s style could trouble Murray. Murray’s obviously the champion and he might be the favourite but I think it’s a tricky one to call.”

The chief support at the Robin Park Arena in Wigan on Saturday, June 13th will feature heavyweight sensation Tyson Fury in his seventh pro fight. Joining Fury on the undercard will be his cousin Phill Fury, hot Featherweight prospect Steve “Super Bad” Barnes and exciting Canadian puncher Andrew Singh Kooner.

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