Very seldom does a boxer’s pre-fight rhetoric match the reality of their performance on fight night. However, 29 year old Ricky Burns, the unassuming character from Coatbridge, breaks the mould. Instead of waging a war of words within the confines of a press conference, he prefers to engage in a battle with his opponent inside the unforgiving environment of the ring, where trash talk and bravado are not valid currency.
In the recent press conference to promote his forthcoming Lightweight title unification bout with Miguel Vasquez, Burns stayed true to type as he expressed his admiration for the Mexican World Champion, stating, “Obviously I respect Vazquez. He’s one of the top fighters in the weight division”. Moreover, Burns paid his Mexican counterpart the ultimate compliment when he stated that, Vasquez could prove to be an even more difficult to dispatch than Adrien Broner, who is widely regarded, by many ring experts, as the No1 Lightweight in the world, not to mention, one of the best pound for pound fighters on the planet. Burns stated, “A lot of people have been talking about me fighting Adrien Broner. I would say this could be a trickier fight actually than Adrien Broner.”
A cursory glance at both Burns and Vasquez’ records – (35-2, 10 KO’s) and (33-3, 13 KO’s) respectively – suggests that neither fighter possesses the frightening punching power of Broner, who himself boasts an immensely impressive 21 KO’s from only 25 contests. Yet, the lack of knockout punching power in both fighters is why their unification bout should prove to be such a compelling contest; it will be a grueling 12 round battle, which will test both mens’ will, endurance and resolve to the absolute limit.
The 26 year old Vasquez undoubtedly represents Burns greatest test to date, as he has yet to taste defeat at lightweight and has faced far superior opposition than Burns has. Vasquez has twice fought the big punching Saul Alvarez, succumbing to points defeats on both occasions in 2006 and 2008 respectively. His only other defeat came against Timothy Bradley, again on points in 2007.
The very fact that Vasquez survived against two of the sport’s elite fighters, both of whom, are current world champions, highlights his possession of great boxing skills as well as the heart and spirit of a true Mexican warrior. His pedigree boldly underlines the magnitude of the task facing Ricky Burns.
Though, perhaps more tellingly, both men stand at 5ft, 10ins. This means that Burns, who has been accustomed to fighting much smaller men up until now, will not be afforded the luxury of being able to fight on the outside, using his stiff left jab to keep his opponent at a distance, like he has done, with such success throughout his career.
Instead, he will be forced to engage in exchanges more often with Vasquez, which could prove dangerous against the gutsy Mexican. So, despite having home advantage and, thousands of fanatical fans willing him on to victory inside the Wembley arena, Burns will have to make the stand of his life if he is to survive the inevitable onslaught of Miguel Vasquez.
And whilst the margins for error are slim, the incentives to win couldn’t be higher. Whoever emerges victorious on 16th March, will surely be in line for a money spinning clash with Adrien Broner, in a battle for Lightweight supremacy.
Hopefully, by the end of their fight on 16th March, the reality that the understated Ricky Burns will be the unified Lightweight Champion of the World will make up for the absence of hyperbole infused pre-fight rhetoric that normally accompanies such world title unification clashes.