The prediction from Eddie Hearn, Matchroom supremo and promoter of Ricky Burns, that the World Champion ‘may never box again’ after suffering a broken jaw in his highly controversial draw over Mexican Raymundo Beltran seems to have been premature. It now appears, at least according to the comments made to the BBC, by his manager Alex Morrison, that the Scot, will “definitely fight again, one million per cent.”
This is obviously fantastic news for the Lion hearted fighter and his fervent fan following. What may not be so great however, are the early reports that Burns, and his camp, seem on intent on giving Beltran a rematch in his very next fight after he recovers from the serious jaw injury. The olive branch seemingly being thrown to Beltran is, on the one hand, due to the tremendous Sportsmanship of Burns, and on the other to the embarrassment of his camp, who clearly feel there is credence in the conviction that the challenger was indeed ‘robbed’ of a World Championship, by stating that a rematch is the ‘moral’ thing to do. This is of course perfectly true, as even the most partisan of observers would openly acknowledge that Beltran deserved to go home as a Champion of the World after turning in such a confident and composed performance in what was undoubtedly the biggest fight, and night, of his life.
For Beltran’s hard work and sacrifice to end in tears rather than the triumph his performance richly deserved is tantamount to a tale of Shakespearean tragedy. And as much as the cruel nature of the conclusion obviously deeply affected the heartbroken Beltran, it is clear that he has been the doomed protagonist in this kind of narrative many times before in his career. The look of utter desolation etched upon the proud warriors face when he addressed the TV cameras in his dressing room after the bout was enough to bring a tear to a glass eye.
And this is why, in a sport where integrity, equality and fairness are almost always an afterthought of everyone intimately involved apart from, of course, the fighters, the compassion shown to the plight of Beltran by Burn’s inner circle has helped restore faith in a sport, which just cannot rid itself of the crooked and corrupt ruling class that continue to taint its reputation with impunity.
But, the chorus of approval from fans who also agree that a rematch is the ‘moral’ course of action to take will doubtless be balanced by the manic chants from the majority of boxing observers who will say Burn’s is far too brave for his own good and should never again risk putting himself within punching distance of the classy veteran Beltran.
So for some, the decision to grant Beltran another shot at his title would be an act of heroism
For others, it would simply be career suicide.
Personally, I would subscribe to the latter school of thought as Beltran was the clear winner of the fight, and although the broken jaw, said to have been sustained as early as the 2nd round, clearly contributed to Burns’ brave but bashful performance, it was not the decisive factor. Realistically, Burns lacks the power to really gain the respect of the elite Lightweights, who will be content to ‘walk through’ his shots so they can dish out damage of their own- exactly the way Beltran did for the most of the fight last Saturday night.
So if Burns- who is so, so lucky still to be WBO Lightweight Champion- wants to avoid a similar tale of tragedy to the one experienced by his Mexican opponent, he should abandon the romantic notion of facing Beltran again and instead face fighters limited enough to keep his fairytale alive.