Saturday night WBO lightweight champion and perhaps Scotland’s greatest ever fighter, Ricky Burns, faced off against Raymundo Beltran in Glasgow with the title on the line.
Coming into the fight many were expecting a marquee performance from Burns, following his average performance against Gonzalez in his last outing. Many believed that Beltran would naturally go back to his sparring partner mentality and be unable to seize the opportunity in front of him.
This was to be proved very wrong, as Beltran came out and really did put on a good performance. It seems as though all the years as one of Manny Pacquiao’s sparring partner had prepared him for this opportunity. You have to be a seriously tough and clever guy to last with Manny for any period of time.
Beltran was loading up with big left hooks to both the body and head and really looked as though he knew he was going to win the fight. Burns in contrast just didn’t seem his normal self and seemed completely unable to work up-close. Every time they got near Burns would grab hold of Beltran. To be honest Burns was lucky not to have points taken away for holding because it was a more than frequent event.
Beltran was the aggressor throughout and the man setting the tempo. Burns was even knocked down in the 8th before returning to his feet and seeing out the rest of the round. Burns began to make a bit of a comeback late on and showed great determination to keep on going to the end but he came up just short.
Following the final bell, I sat there confused and disappointed. I was confused about what Burns had been doing and the tactics he was trying to implement throughout. He was throwing big, clumsy shots with little success and neglected to use his jab and work from distance.
I sat there feeling disappointed believing that Britain was about to lose another world title following the Nathan Cleverly loss. I was only to be more disappointed with the scorecards with the judges scoring it 115-113 to Burns, 115-112 to Beltran and then 114-114. I couldn’t believe my ears when the legendary Michael Buffer announced that this fight had been ruled a draw.
My instant emotion was relief for Ricky to have maintained the title but I then began to feel disappointed for Beltran who had clearly won the fight, yet would be returning home without the world title. It seemed an injustice to me and is something that unfortunately is too common a thing in the sport that I love.
There are too many bad decisions made out there with boxers effectively being robbed of the glory that they deserve. It just isn’t right and for me is the dark side of the sport that people try to forget about and brush-off.
Over the years there have been so many instances of bad scoring and it is in my opinion something that needs to be stamped out of the sport. It leads to accusations of fixing and politics within the sport being able to influence results. Such accusations are seriously damaging for the sport.
In his post-fight interview it was obvious that Beltran was devastated and he had every right to feel that way. He stated:
"Politics, always the same thing in boxing.
"There is money involved, it is business, every time they have a chance to protect their investment they do it. They play with the business, they have the power.
"There is money involved, it is business, every time they have a chance to protect their investment they do it. They play with the business, they have the power."
"If I got beat I got beat, I've been getting robbed every time. It is just so frustrating, there is so much sacrifice. We put ourselves on the line. But it is business."
Beltran clearly feels aggrieved and for me the only just outcome is an immediate shot at a world title for Beltran. It appears unlikely that this will come against Burns due to the injury suffered in the fight.
It was discovered that Burns had broken his jaw in the fight and somehow managed to carry on until the end despite the obvious pain he was in. It was a real show of determination to get through and he really did show the heart of a champion but for me he shouldn’t have walked out of there as champion.
Burns’ future is the sport is now being called into question following the brutal break to his jaw and surgery. It will be a lengthy lay-off at best for Burns and he may have to vacate his title during that time.
A broken jaw is an extremely serious injury for a boxer and Burns may never be the same again. He may never be able to take the force of a big shot on his jaw and may never be able to return to the top of the sport again.
Promoter Eddie Hearn revealed:
“…I can't guarantee Ricky will ever box again. It's a major operation. We don't know how he will recover from that and the jaw is an integral part of a boxer's make-up.
"Right now, my main concern after seeing him in hospital is Ricky Burns' health. His career will come second. My gut feeling is he will come back but it will be some time before he's ready again."
I personally still believe that we will see Ricky Burns on these big nights and personally believe that great performances are down the line for this young man. He is an extremely tough and dedicated fighter who doesn’t get the credit he deserves.
He is a very lucky man to still be able to call himself world champion. This fight does for me highlight the dark side of boxing.
Burns v Beltran: dark side brought to the forefront again!
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