We have all heard the story about a boxer who is at a ‘career crossroads’. In the contemporary boxing world it seems like every fighter is just one defeat away from a full blown crisis. At the top level, a boxer always operates with the sword of Damocles dangling precariously over his head.
A fighter wears a loss at world level like a scarlet letter, but two defeats in a row and you are ripe for the guillotine. The nature of beast means that is win or bust for Ricky Burns, who simply has to deliver the goods tonight if he wants to keep his head above water.
As a fellow Scotsman, I sincerely hope that his latest comeback can restore his shattered confidence and kick start his career. His first foray into the light welterweight division can be the fresh start that his career badly needs.
Burns vs Crawfird
To be fair to Burns, you can legislate for his loss to Terrence Crawford. The Omaha native is a supremely gifted technician who has the talent to get to the very top of the sport.
In the fullness of time, Crawford will probably be a multi-division world champion- so there was no shame in that defeat. Similarly, he deserved tremendous credit for battling to the bitter end against Raymundo Beltran despite breaking his jaw in the 2nd round.
Most boxers would have bailed out of that fight at the 1st opportunity, but Burns’ warrior mentality just would not allow him to throw in the towel. The resilience he showed that night was rewarded with a dubious draw, although everyone, Burns included, knows that Beltran should have had his hand raised in victory. Still, in boxing, you take the lucky breaks where you can get them.
However, his last defeat to the relatively unknown Dejan Zlaticanan left him in a detritus. In the aftermath of that humbling loss, many in the boxing world began to speculate that the physical and psychological damage he suffered against Beltran and Crawford had plunged his career into a state of terminal decline.
The third shot
If second chances are rare, then the chances of being given a 3rd shot at redemption are tantamount to sitting next to a drug crazed unicorn at Burns’ fight tonight’s in Leeds, on the undercard of Josh Warrington’s EBU featherweight title fight against Davide Dieli.
However, Burns’ is lucky to have a promoter like Eddie Hearn, who desperately wants to believe that he is not done yet. After his catastrophe against Zlaticanan, most boxing promoters would have cut their losses and discarded Burns into the boxing abyss. Burns must repay Hearn’s faith and perseverance and prove that his career is worth fighting for by putting on a dominant display against Alexandre Lepelley.
Forget all the rhetoric, Burns really is fighting for his boxing life tonight. If he loses, his career is dead and buried. However, I expect him to get back on the road to recovery tonight with a convincing victory over Lepelley.
Come on Ricky Burns!
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