“I was beaten by the better man”. Truer words have never been spoken by Ricky Burns as he gave a frank and concise assessment of his performance in the immediate aftermath of his defeat to Terrence Crawford.
Burns showed he is as humble in defeat as he is in victory. Yet for the third fight in a row he flattered to deceive, only this time paid the ultimate price in losing his prized possession: the WBO lightweight title.
The 30 year old Scotsman now faces a long road to redemption to prove he is still a relevant entity at the elite level of the lightweight division. But Burns should abandon any ideas of a rematch between Crawford, as the overwhelming consensus is that the classy American would cruise to another landslide victory, thus further damaging the former champions’ career prospects.
Though if Burns is still as insistent as he was after the Crawford fight that he will not entertain the notion of returning to domestic level then the obvious path to pursue would be a fight with the other 135lb titleholders; Miguel Vasquez (IBF), Richard Abril (WBA) and Omar Figueroa Jnr (WBC).
However, Richard Abril, who many thought clinically out boxed Brandan Rios despite losing a controversial decision, has an upcoming title defence against Russian challenger, Eduard Troyanovskiy, on April. Additionally, he has been relatively inactive in the last few years, fighting only once since his dubious defeat from Rios in April, 2012. So the chances are slim that Burns could tempt him into a title showdown, at least this year anyway.
Interestingly enough, both Vasquez and Figueroa Jnr do not have any scheduled bouts at this moment in time, so Eddie Hearn- Burns’ promoter- could seize the initiative and attempt to set up a clash with either man. Vasquez recently returned to the ring in February after a 14 month absence to register a 12 round unanimous decision victory over Denis Shafikov, who was previously undefeated in 33 contests.
So due to the similar timing of Burns and Vasquez’ respective recent bouts, it may be safe to speculate that a meeting between the two could potentially be arranged for later in the year. But any clash would most probably have to take place in America- why would Vasquez, the champion, travel to Scotland when Burns no longer even has a title as a bargaining chip to entice him across the Atlantic?
As far as Figueroa is concerned, Ricky Burns- a former two weight world champion, with a wealth of championship experience- would represent a notable feather on his cap. Especially considering he has never even fought for a world title despite being recently anointed as the new WBC champion- a consequence of Adrien Broner being stripped of the strap. As fate would have it, Figueroa was forced to pull out of fighting on the undercard of Canelo Alvarez vs Alfredo Angulo due to a hand injury, and thus could be open to an encounter with Burns in the coming months.
Arguably, Figueroa is probably Burns’ best option out of the current champions. In spite of his inexperience at world level, he endeared himself to boxing public with a blockbuster victory against Nihito Arakawa, which many experts thought was the 2013 ‘Fight of the Year’. The two by-products of that thrilling contest were that his box office value soared and some fundamental flaws in his boxing ability were exposed. Consequently, Burns could conceivably cash in on another lucrative pay-day and in the process potentially pick up a priceless win that would propel him back up to the higher echelons of the division.
The road to redemption starts now and regardless of whomever is on the horizon for Ricky Burns, if he continues to be so tentative in his attack and wary in his defence then it may not be long before he again utters the words, “I was beaten by the better man”.