Dan Rafael: Ricky Burns

Burns gets foe for 140-pound debut

September, 18, 2014
Sep 18
The Ricky Burns story at junior welterweight will begin against Leonardo Esteban Gonzalez on Oct. 4.

Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn announced on Thursday that Burns, a former lightweight and junior lightweight titlist, will face Gonzalez in his junior welterweight debut on a card at the First Direct Arena in Leeds, England.

[+] EnlargeRicky Burns, Raymundo Beltran
Scott Heavey/Getty ImagesRicky Burns, right, will look to get his career back on track with a move up to junior welterweight.
Scotland's Burns (36-4-1, 11 KOs), 31, is winless in his last three fights. He retained his belt with a questionable draw against Raymundo Beltran last September, then lost his belt by clear decision to Terence Crawford in March and then lost a split decision to Dejan Zlaticanin in June. At that point, Burns decided to move up in weight and Hearn scheduled him for Oct. 4.

"I believe that the move up in weight will really benefit me," Burns said. "The lightweight limit [of 135 pounds] was proving tougher to make in my last few fights so that's now behind me and I can concentrate on working on my boxing in the gym with [trainer] Tony Sims," Burns said. "It has been a tough year following the Raymundo Beltran fight but I'm feeling great in the gym and the fire and desire is still there to achieve big things. I'm looking to show in Leeds that I've still got the goods to challenge for major belts and ultimately, win another world title."

Gonzalez (22-5-1, 15 KOs), 32, of Argentina, has faced one recognizable opponent, former titlist Paulus Moses, who knocked him out in the seventh round in October 2013. In 2012, Burns outpointed Moses in a lightweight title defense.

Tapia's return; Soliman-Taylor site

August, 26, 2014
Aug 26
A few notes from the boxing world:

• Junior middleweight Glen Tapia (21-1, 13 KOs), 24, of Passaic, New Jersey, will be back in action to face Donatas Bondorovas (18-5-1, 6 KOs), 34, of Chicago, in a scheduled 10-round bout on Oct. 4 in the main event of a non-televised Top Rank card at Bally’s in Atlantic City, New Jersey, Top Rank vice president Carl Moretti told ESPN.com. Tapia, now training with Hall of Famer Freddie Roach, is eyeing his second win in a row since a rough sixth-round knockout loss to James Kirkland on HBO in December.

Tapia was scheduled to fight July 26 in New York on the Gennady Golovkin-Daniel Geale undercard, but was denied a license by the New York State Athletic Commission the day before the fight because of an issue over a pre-existing blood condition, one which he has fought with for his entire career. Tapia is licensed already in New Jersey. He fought there in June. Bondorovas participated in ESPN2’s Boxcino middleweight tournament, losing a six-round decision to Willie Monroe Jr. in the quarterfinals in February.

• Middleweight titlist Sam Soliman’s first defense against former undisputed champion Jermain Taylor (32-4-1, 20 KOs), which is on Oct. 8 (ESPN2), will take place at the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino, Warriors Boxing promoter Leon Margules, who is co-promoting the card, told ESPN.com. Taylor, 36, of Little Rock, Arkansas, was middleweight champion from 2005 to 2007. In 2009, he suffered a small brain bleed in a 12th-round knockout loss to Arthur Abraham. Taylor was off for 26 months, but after extensive medical testing, all of which he passed, he was licensed and has won four fights in a row. Soliman (44-11, 18 KOs), of Australia, will be making his first title defense since outpointing Felix Sturm in Germany in May.

• Talks are ongoing for a junior middleweight bout between contenders Vanes Martirosyan (34-1-1, 21 KOs), whose lone loss was a decision to Demetrius Andrade for a vacant world title in November, and Willie Nelson (23-1-1, 13 KOs), who has won seven fights in a row. Lou DiBella, Nelson’s promoter, said if a deal is made the fight could land on Showtime on Oct. 4 on the same card expected to feature junior lightweight titlist Rances Barthelemy’s defense against Fernando Saucedo at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, Connecticut.
“It’s a very good fight, a tough fight between real contenders,” DiBella said. “It’s not done, but we’re working on it.”

• Former lightweight and junior lightweight titlist Ricky Burns (36-4-1, 11 KOs), 31, of Scotland, plans to move up to junior welterweight for his ring return on Oct. 4 at First Direct Arena in Leeds, England. Burns, who will face an opponent to be determined, will fight on the undercard of the vacant European featherweight title bout between Josh Warrington (18-0, 2 KOs), who is from Leeds, and Davide Dieli (15-3, 5 KOs) of Italy. Burns is looking to shake a two-fight losing streak, a decision loss to Terence Crawford that cost him his lightweight world title in March followed by a major upset split decision loss to Dejan Zlaticanin on June 27.
Ricky Burns has held world titles at lightweight and junior lightweight and he wants another title at 135 pounds.

He can get the opportunity if he beats Dejan Zlaticanin (18-0, 13 KOs) of Montenegro in a title eliminator on Friday at Braehead Arena in Glasgow, Scotland, Burns' home country.

[+] EnlargeTerence Crawford
Mark Runnacles/Getty ImagesDespite losing his lightweight belt to Terence Crawford in March, Ricky Burns could find himself back in line for a title shot at 135 pounds.
The winner of the fight will become a mandatory challenger for world titleholder Omar Figueroa, although he first has his current mandatory to deal with against Daniel Estrada.

So even if Burns wins he is going to have to wait for a bit for the title shot. But that's OK with him because he is confident he can become a three-time world titleholder.

"[Promoter] Eddie [Hearn] said that I need to come through this first but if I do then he'll be pushing for me to fight Figueroa," Burns said. "I believe I have another world title in me. Omar is a good fighter, another southpaw, but I've seen clips of him and his last defense was a close fight, and some people thought he lost it.

"So it would be a fight that I would be confident going into and the WBC belt is the one that everyone wants to get their hands on, so fingers crossed that I can get through this one and Eddie can work his magic and get me that shot."

Burns (36-3-1, 11 KOs) lost his lightweight title by clear decision to Terence Crawford on March 1. In the fight before that, Burns received a heavily disputed hometown draw against Raymundo Beltran in September.

Following those two fights, many thought that Burns was having trouble making weight and would look for an opportunity by moving up to junior welterweight. Burns said that was not in his thinking.

"A lot of people have said to me, 'Are you moving up to light welterweight?' But 100 percent I am staying at lightweight," he said. "There are some huge fights out there for me at the weight -- the rematches with Beltran and Crawford are big ones, there's [titlist] Miguel Vasquez and there's some great British fights, too. I make light welterweight too easy and I think that if you are making the weight too easy you are at the wrong weight. That last couple of pounds to get to lightweight is not fun, but I am a lightweight and I'm not going to be moving.

"I never put more pressure on myself than I need to. As long as I get the win, that's all that matters. Is Friday a must-win fight? Yes, I suppose so, but that puts more pressure on and when you go in there looking for the big punches to look good it doesn't happen. I am just going into this fight and looking to stick to my boxing and if I get to him and hurt him I will be looking to close the show, but as long as I win that's the main thing."

Bids set for Stieglitz, Burns fights

December, 3, 2013
The WBO has scheduled two purse bids for a pair of world title bouts -- the rubber match between super middleweight titlist Robert Stieglitz and Arthur Abraham and lightweight titleholder Ricky Burns' mandatory defense against Terence Crawford.

The sides could make deals for the fights before the purse bid, but in the event that they don't -- and they probably won't -- Stieglitz-Abraham III goes up for auction on Sunday at a purse bid in Budapest, Hungary. Minimum bid is $300,000.

The auction for the promotional rights to Burns-Crawford will take place Monday at the WBO offices in San Juan. The minimum offer for that fight is $150,000.

Burns-Crawford fight ordered

November, 11, 2013
In one of the worst decisions of the year -- and of the past few years -- lightweight titlist Ricky Burns got the ultimate hometown nod in Scotland, retaining his belt on a split draw against hard-luck Mexican Raymundo Beltran on Sept. 7.

Even some of Burns’ most ardent supporters took to social media to say they believed that Beltran had been robbed, which he was. Beltran broke Burns’ jaw in the second round, dropped him in the eighth round, outmuscled him throughout the fight and clearly should have gotten the decision. So it seemed like a logical bet that the WBO, whose belt Burns holds, would order an immediate rematch. But, alas, it did not. Instead, the organization announced that it has ordered Burns promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Sport to begin negotiations with Top Rank for his mandatory defense against Terence Crawford, leaving Beltran high and dry.

The Burns and Crawford camps have until early December to reach a deal, otherwise a purse bid will be ordered. The minimum bid is $150,000, and if either side wants, it can call for an immediate purse bid and stop negotiating.

The order puts Top Rank in a delicate position because it promotes Crawford and Beltran. However, the fight HBO wants is Burns-Crawford, so if Burns’ jaw is healed and he’s going to fight in early 2014, it looks as though he will be facing Crawford, possibly in the United States if the network comes up with enough money to entice him to come stateside.

The organization also ordered the third fight between super middleweight titlist Robert Stieglitz and mandatory challenger (and former titlist) Arthur Abraham. Stieglitz promoter Ulf Steinforth of SES Sports and Chris Meyer of Sauerland Event are in discussions, but if they can’t make a deal, a purse bid will be ordered. Minimum bid is $300,000.

Abraham edged Stieglitz to win the belt in their first fight in August 2012 but then got routed in a fourth-round knockout in the March rematch. Ridiculously, Abraham was appointed as the mandatory challenger and has looked terrible in a pair of decision wins against lesser opponents since the loss.

The rubber match is expected to take place in early 2014 -- before the start of the Winter Olympics in February -- but the big question is which German television network will broadcast the fight, as Stieglitz has an exclusive deal with SAT.1 while Sauerland has a deal for all of its fights to be on ARD.

Sky, Matchroom extend UK TV deal

October, 4, 2013
In a major boxing television deal announced Friday, Great Britain’s Sky Sports, a subscription sports network that has been involved in boxing for many years, extended its deal with promoter Matchroom Sport.

Matchroom Sport has been the exclusive provider of fights cards to the network for the past few years and will continue to be for the next two years -- and 40 shows -- under the terms of the deal. The extension commences in June, Matchroom Sport promoter Eddie Hearn announced.

“I'm delighted to announce a new two-year extension to our existing contract with Sky Sports, which will see us as the principle promoter on the channel to summer 2016,” Hearn said in a statement. “We have developed one of the strongest stables ever seen in world boxing and the extension gives us the perfect platform to grow our team and provide them all with the ultimate opportunity to achieve within the sport.

“Sky shares our passion and vision for the sport and is a perfect partner as we look to grow boxing significantly over the next few years. It’s exciting times for an exciting sport and we have some mouth-watering plans to share with Sky Sports viewers.”

Because Hearn has the exclusivity of the Sky platform, it has allowed him to sign many top fighters and put on the bulk of Britain’s major fights over the past few years, including those involving Carl Froch, Ricky Burns, Darren Barker, Scot Quigg, Tony Bellew and Kell Brook. It has also been a key reason he has been able to sign top prospects seeking the necessary exposure to become known to the public, including Olympic gold medalists Anthony Joshua and Luke Campbell.

Said Adam Smith, executive producer of boxing, “We are confident fight fans will continue to enjoy the very best quality, innovation and excitement on Sky Sports.”

The deal also allows Hearn to make deals to secure international fights, including some of the major United States fights, such as next week’s Timothy Bradley Jr.-Juan Manuel Marquez bout, Mike Alvarado-Ruslan Provodnikov on Oct. 19 and the Nov. 2 fight between Gennady Golovkin and Curtis Stevens.

Sky’s only real competition in the boxing market comes from all-boxing subscription network BoxNation, although it is in far fewer homes than Sky.

Beltran burned by home cooking

September, 7, 2013
Ricky Burns in action with Raymundo BeltranScott Heavey/Getty ImagesRaymundo Beltran seemed to win most rounds on Saturday, and he dropped Ricky Burns in the eighth.

Raymundo Beltran has had a hard career. Nobody has done him any favors. He has earned everything that he has achieved.

That should have included a lightweight world title on Saturday, but he was jobbed and robbed in an awful decision. Instead of hoisting a hard-earned belt high above his head on what should have been the happiest day of his professional life, Beltran was ripped off in a draw against Ricky Burns, who ought to kneel in the middle of the ring and kiss the mat to show his thanks for receiving the epitome of a hometown gift.

Beltran has always been the "opponent." He has often traveled to his foe's hometown, as he did for the fight with Burns, in Glasgow, Scotland, where Burns is the star and supposed to win.

Beltran, born in Mexico and living in Los Angeles, had made more of a name for himself by serving as sparring partner for Manny Pacquiao than as the lightweight contender he has emerged as in the past 16 months. But that should have changed after he turned in the finest performance of his career.

He beat Burns. Clearly.

He dislocated Burns' jaw in the second round. Dropped him cleanly in the eighth and dominated most of the action. And then the judges struck.

Judge Andre Van Grootenbruel of Belgium had it 115-113 for Beltran, a solid card in what I thought was a very easy fight to score. I had it 115-112 for Beltran, with almost no debatable rounds.

And then came the unforgivable cards from British judge Richie Davis, who had it a 114-114 draw, and American judge Carlos Ortiz Jr., whose 115-112 card for Burns defied logic. It was a fantasy card. Just ridiculous.

The look on Beltran's face in the dressing room after the fight, where he was interviewed by U.K. broadcaster Sky Sports, was one of pure dejection. Listening to him talk of being robbed was heartbreaking.

Asked if he felt he should have won the title, he answered, "Yes, I do. Absolutely. ... I think I did everything I had to do to win the fight."

Asked what he thought the reason was that two of the judges would deny him, Beltran was calm but answered in a brutally honest manner.

"Politics. Always the same thing in boxing," he said. "I think it's disrespectful for the fighter and the fans. They [the powers that be] play the business because they have the power. If I got beat, I got beat. But I didn't. It's so frustrating. So much hard work, sacrifice. We put our life on the line. They don't care. It's not Ricky's fault. It's business."

Sometimes a dirty one, unfortunately.

"Everything was against me," Beltran said. "To me, I'm a world champion. It's bull----. That belt is mine."

It certainly should be. Although Burns, making his fourth defense, got off to a good start, Beltran obviously hurt Burns' jaw early in the fight.

By the third round, Beltran was in control. He was walking Burns down, lashing him with left hooks to the body and head. The left hook was a dominant weapon that did most of the damage for him, and he used it to perfection.

He rocked Burns with the hook in a big fourth round and had him backing up and holding on, round after round. Burns admitted afterward that he was protecting his injured jaw.

In the eighth round, Beltran (28-6-1, 17 KOs) fired one of his meanest left hooks, catching Burns bang on the chin and dropping him. Burns (36-2-1, 11 KOs) won maybe two of the late rounds in the fight, but even his own corner was clearly concerned, given the way they were talking to him between rounds. The concern began early -- after the fifth round.

Burns, trainer Billy Nelson and promoter Eddie Hearn sounded like the losers in their postfight interviews. And none of them, thankfully, had the audacity to claim victory.

"I take my hat off to him," said Burns, who could barely talk because of the jaw injury. "It was a tough fight. I don't know how I got through that. Hopefully, it's not too much damage [to the jaw]. I knew it was close. I'm disappointed, obviously, in a draw.

"After the fourth round, I was more concentrated on not getting my jaw hurt. The knockdown, I take my hat off to him. It was a good shot."

Hearn talked about a possible rematch, although that doesn't make up for the rip job.

All Nelson could muster was, "I thought it was a really close fight."

But it really wasn't very close. The rounds were easy to score, and even Sky announcer Jim Watt -- who has a reputation for being a U.K. homer -- had Beltran winning 115-113. Johnny Nelson, the excellent Sky commentator and highly respected former cruiserweight titleholder, also had Beltran the clear winner. Even an arena full of Burns fans didn't do much cheering for their man after he had retained the title. They are very passionate fans, but they're not stupid. They know who won the fight.

The TV announcers know who won the fight. I know who won the fight. Beltran sure knows who won the fight, and even Burns and his team sounded as if they knew who really won the fight.

Two judges didn't, and that is a crying shame.

Burns' baby arrives before fight

September, 6, 2013
Lightweight titlist Ricky Burns of Scotland said he has even more reason than usual to be motivated for his fourth title defense, which comes against Mexico’s Raymundo Beltran on Saturday (AWE, formerly WealthTV, 3 p.m. ET) at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre in Glasgow.

That is because Burns’ wife, Amanda, gave birth to their first child, a boy, last Thursday.

“I’ve always been hungry for my fights, but now I have even more to fight for with my little boy,” Burns said. “I’m fighting to give him a great start in life, and it’s definitely something that will drive me on to win not just (Saturday), but in all my future fights.”

Burns, however, does admit the timing could have been better, given that Amanda was close to giving birth during the late stages of his training camp. Staying focused on the fight surely was difficult at times.

“The timing could’ve been better, but that’s life,” Burns said. “I’d rather the baby come a week before the fight than just after, as I would’ve had the phone on all the time and waiting for the call while I’m close to making weight or ready to step into the ring. Now he’s here, I can relax knowing that after I win, I’ll be going home to my new family. It’s a great thought and something totally new of course. It’s easy to say it now, but the buildup hasn’t been affected by the baby, really. Yes, I wanted to make sure Amanda and the baby were OK but she was in great hands, and I would probably have got on her nerves if I’d been around. It was a really long labor -- two days basically -- so she was really tired of course but I’m sure she’d agree that it’s worth it and we’ve got a beautiful little boy now.”

The baby does not yet have a name.

“We haven’t decided on names yet,” he said. “Amanda thought it was going to be a girl so it's going to be baby Burns until we get a name sorted.”

Baby not a distraction for Burns

August, 20, 2013
Ricky BurnsPress Association/AP ImagesImpending fatherhood will not distract Ricky Burns from preparing for opponent Raymundo Beltran.
Lightweight titlist Ricky Burns has a lot on his mind heading into his fourth title defense, which is scheduled for Sept. 7 on his home turf in Glascow, Scotland, against Raymundo Beltran of Mexico.

Burns and his wife, Amanda, are expecting their first child at any time. Amanda was due on Friday.

"We don't know if it's a boy or a girl so that's going to be exciting," Burns said. "We haven't decided on names yet. Amanda thinks it's going to be a girl and she's got some names in mind but if it's a boy it's going to be 'Baby Burns' for a few days until we get a name sorted."

Even though Burns said he is excited about impending fatherhood, he also said it would not prevent him from being focused on his preparation for Beltran (28-6, 17 KOs).

"The baby is due at any time now but it's not been a distraction," Burns said. "Amanda was working until a couple of weeks ago and has only just gone on maternity leave really. The due date was last Friday so it could be any time now. Obviously, we don't want it too close to the fight but things are looking good and Amanda and the baby are both fine, which is great.

"The midwife told Amanda recently that she was quite low-maintenance and I agree. She's just got on with it and it has been great, and I just can't wait to meet him or her. It's dragging on a bit. The baby is healthy, so it's just a waiting game and we're getting a bit impatient. And I'll be playing the waiting game again in the fight week to get in the ring to face Beltran."

Burns is coming off a ninth-round TKO victory against mandatory challenger Jose Gonzalez of Puerto Rico on May 11. Gonzalez outclassed Burns for most of the fight, although Burns (36-2, 11 KOs) did begin to turn things around in the action-packed seventh round and Gonzalez quit on his stool after the ninth round with a lead on all three scorecards.

Better preparation key for Burns

August, 7, 2013
Gonzalez-BurnsScott Heavey/Getty ImagesRicky Burns, right, is looking for a more balanced performance than the one against Jose Gonzalez.
Lightweight titlist Ricky Burns of Scotland knows he didn't look good in his May defense against Jose Gonzalez, the little-known mandatory challenger from Puerto Rico.

Gonzalez gave Burns all kinds of problems before quitting on his stool after the ninth round, claiming an injury, although he was ahead on all three scorecards.

Burns (36-2, 11 KOs) is returning to make his fourth title defense against Mexico's Raymundo Beltran (28-6, 17 KOs) on Sept. 7 at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre in Glasgow, Scotland, and vowed to be better prepared than he was against Gonzalez.

"I've watched the fight back a few times," Burns said. "I saw that I was trying to force the pace and I was getting caught with stupid punches that I shouldn't have been taking. For this training camp we've gone back to basics and although I'm prepared to get into a brawl against Beltran if I need to, I'm going to try to stick to my boxing skills. Preparation has been going great."

Beltran, who has served as one of Manny Pacquiao's top sparring partners, has won three consecutive fights to push himself into the lightweight top 10, including an upset decision win against Hank Lundy 13 months ago. Beltran is nothing if not tough.

"I am expecting a very tough fight," Burns said. "He's got a few losses, but they are against top level opponents so we know what to expect, and he has not been a sparring partner to Manny Pacquiao for all these years for nothing. I've seen him fight before but since the fight was announced I haven't watched anything of him. I'm just going to go out and stick to what I do best to get the win and then look at the big unification fights out there.

"I still have to go out and put in a good performance against Beltran to make them happen. I keep telling everybody that even though it's been mentioned that I might fight in America at the start of next year, I am not looking at that. I know I have to take it one fight at a time. Raymundo is a great fighter. Boxing fans know that and it's going to be a great fight and the fans in the SECC in Glasgow are going to have a great night, and I'll be putting in the type of performance that I should've done last time."

The card will also include lightweight Luke Campbell, the 2012 British Olympic bantamweight gold medalist, in his second professional fight, a scheduled six-rounder against an opponent to be named. Campbell turned pro on July 13 and blitzed Andre Harris in an 88-second knockout win.

Katsidis eyes farewell fight

August, 2, 2013
Michael KatsidisChris Cozzone/FightWireImages.com All-action fighter Michael Katsidis is ready to climb into the ring for one more fight.

Lightweight Michael Katsidis was one of the most exciting action fighters of the era. Time and again, he was in dramatic slugfests.

In 2007 and 2008, he had three consecutive fight of the year contenders in interim lightweight title bouts -- winning a ridiculous fight with Graham Earl by a fifth-round knockout in England, a bloody unanimous decision against Czar Amonsot in Las Vegas (in which Amonsot suffered a brain injury) and a 10th-round knockout loss to Joel Casamayor in a mayhem-filled bout in Cabazon, Calif.

There were other grueling fights, such as a decision loss to Juan Diaz and a knockout loss to Juan Manuel Marquez, whom he dropped hard and nearly knocked out.

The brutal battles took their toll, however, and Katsidis lost four of his last five fights, including what we all thought would be his final bout, a decision to Albert Mensah in an April 2012 junior welterweight bout that headlined an ESPN2 card.

Although Katsidis never formally retired, there was a lot of chatter that he had gotten a bad medical report, forcing him to call it quits.

But now, according to The Chronicle newspaper in his hometown of Toowoomba, Australia, Katsidis (28-6, 23 KOs), who turns 33 this month, is looking for one more fight and has reunited with former manager/trainer Brendon Smith to help make it happen. Katsidis and Smith split after a decision loss to Ricky Burns in 2011, the fight before the Mensah bout.

According to the report, Katsidis is eyeing a possible farewell fight in his hometown, where he has not fought since a first-round knockout victory against Guillermo Mosquera in 2006. Although Katsidis has business interests and a clothing line that he is looking after, boxing isn’t out of his system just yet.

“I'm clear to fight. My health is a No. 1 priority. I've got a little daughter now,” Katsidis told the paper. “I'm in the transition period of my career now as I begin moving into the business world, but I want to give back something to Toowoomba and my fans. I want to fight again and go out on my terms. This is where I want to have my send-off. I believe I've achieved everything I can in boxing but I just want to fight again.”

There is no date or opponent yet.

Campbell's second bout: Sept. 7

July, 18, 2013

British lightweight prospect Luke Campbell, the 2012 Olympic bantamweight gold medalist, will fight in his second professional bout on Sept. 7 in Glasgow, Scotland on the undercard of lightweight titlist Ricky Burns' defense against Raymundo Beltran, Matchroom Sport promoter Eddie Hearn announced. In his pro debut last Saturday, Campbell needed just 88 seconds to blow out Andy Harris in front of a hometown crowd in Hull, England.

"It's a dream start, I couldn't have asked for anything better," Campbell said. "I prepared for six tough rounds, but I just relaxed and the shots flowed and I got him out of there. I was in control of myself, the nerves and the occasion. I soaked it up and loved it. I landed that lovely right hook and he just didn't recover."

Kevin Mitchell plans comeback

May, 29, 2013
Lightweight contender Kevin Mitchell, who is coming off a fourth-round knockout loss to Ricky Burns in a September world title fight, is scheduled for his return, although it comes under the cloud of a possible lawsuit.

Matchroom Sport promoter Eddie Hearn, England’s most significant promoter, announced Tuesday that Mitchell (33-2, 24 KOs), 28, of England, would headline a July 6 card in London that will also feature a junior welterweight edition of the popular “Prizefighter” tournament.

The opponent for the scheduled 10-round bout has not yet been determined, but Mitchell said he is looking forward to getting back on track.

“It’s great to get back to action,” he said. “It’s a new chapter in my life, and I’m so excited to be back at the York Hall. There are some massive domestic battles out there for me later this year, and I’m looking for a world title shot in 2014.”

However, Queensberry Promotions issued a statement claiming promotional rights to Mitchell, which could threaten his return.

“We have put Eddie Hearn on notice that should he continue to interfere with Queensberry Promotions’ contractual rights, then we will take immediate action through the courts,” the statement said.

Burns lucky to survive Gonzalez

May, 11, 2013
Gonzalez-BurnsScott Heavey/Getty ImagesRicky Burns, right, got more than he bargained for from a determined and unproven Jose Gonzalez.
For most of the nine rounds that their fight lasted, lightweight titleholder Ricky Burns was utterly outclassed by the largely unknown Jose Gonzalez. It was a shocking scene to see Gonzalez, who was the mandatory challenger for reasons that will remain a mystery -- because it sure had nothing to do with his barren résumé -- toying with Burns.

Gonzalez, who had never fought anyone of remote consequence and was fighting outside of his Puerto Rican home for the first time, had traveled to the lion's den of Glasgow, Scotland, where Burns is a hero, and he took the hero to school Saturday at Emirates Arena.

Burns' title was clearly slipping away -- just listen to the crowd grow quieter and quieter, round after round -- when, suddenly, Gonzalez simply quit on his stool after the ninth round.

The British television commentators, who also had Burns way behind, said it might have been a hand injury. Whatever it was, that's the sort of pain you sign up for when you become a prizefighter. If you want to be a champion, it goes with the territory. Gonzalez (22-1, 17 KOs) couldn't take it, did not have what it takes to be a champion and quit. Poof. Just like that, he gave up the opportunity of a lifetime to win a world title.

But for most of the nine rounds, Gonzalez befuddled an ineffective Burns (36-2, 11 KOs), who was as lucky to keep his title (in his third defense) as anyone is to hit the lottery. This fight wasn't so much about Burns winning it as it was about Gonzalez losing.

Burns, the heavy favorite, showed very little and had me thinking he should be thankful he (and former promoter Frank Warren) turned down multiple overtures from fellow titleholder Adrien Broner. I always thought Broner would manhandle Burns. After seeing Burns against Gonzalez, I'm sure of it.

By the third round, Burns was bleeding from the nose. He was being easily beaten to the punch as Gonzalez showed a really nice variety of punches -- uppercuts, body shots and right hands. He didn't even really use his best punch, the left hook, much.

Gonzalez had big fifth and sixth rounds, backing Burns into the ropes and hurting him with repeated blows. At this point in the fight, it seemed not really a matter of whether Gonzalez would stop him, just when. But I will give Burns a bit of credit here. He is experienced and has heart and obviously knew he was trailing. He let it all hang out in the seventh round, which will go down as a round of the year candidate.

They went toe to toe. They were both hurt and they were both in trouble at different times. It was a blistering round, and it clearly took more out of Gonzalez than Burns.

"He caught me with a few good shots, and I just decided to stand my ground and trade back with him. That's all I could do," Burns said after the fight about Round 7.

Burns mounted a comeback in the eighth and ninth rounds, his best of the fight, as Gonzalez, perhaps his hand already hurt, looked dead tired and did not do very much. Still, Burns was in a deep hole when the ninth ended. And then, out of nowhere, Gonzalez quit, giving Burns the improbable victory.

Eddie Hearn, the Matchroom Sport promoter who signed Burns before this fight after he dumped Warren, seemed relieved Burns had pulled this victory out of the fire.

"Unbelievable courage," he said of Burns' ability to hang in there despite a very tough night.

Then Hearn said they would be back in Scotland for Burns' next title defense in September -- a title he is very, very lucky to still call his own.

Harrison continues comeback

April, 3, 2013
HarrisonScott Heavey/Getty ImagesFormer titlist Scott Harrison is looking to leave his troubles in the past.

Former two-time featherweight titlist Scott Harrison of Scotland has been a huge troublemaker.

He has been incarcerated multiple times. There have been charges for assault, drunk driving, domestic violence and theft, and he has had a problem with alcohol. He has been in trouble regularly for years, which is what led to him being out of the ring from late 2005 (when he was still a reigning titleholder) until June 2012, when he returned for a fourth-round knockout of novice pro Gyorgy Mizsei at lightweight. Harrison fought another novice, Joe Elfidh, in September at welterweight and won a six-round decision.

Harrison will continue his comeback by facing up-and-coming lightweight Liam Walsh (13-0, 10 KOs), 26, of England, in a 12-rounder on April 20 at Wembley Arena in London on the undercard of Welshman Nathan Cleverly’s mandatory light heavyweight title defense against Robin Krasniqi of Germany.

Harrison (27-2-2, 15 KOs) is 35, and if he is going to make another title run, he better do it now.

“Walsh is a good young fighter,” Harrison said. “He’s fast and he’s ambitious and this is the fight that will show all the doubters that I’m back and I mean business. I’ve had two wins since making my comeback and this is the first high-profile fight against a young, hungry fighter, which will test me and show me how far I’m off [from] challenging for a world title. A win will give me an important ranking in the top 10 of the WBO, so this is must-win fight for me.

“I believe that I’ve got the strength and power to win, though, plus the experience at the highest level. I’m on my way back to the world title. It’s going to be a hard road with everything I’ve gone through, but it will be an incredible story when I’ve achieved it.”

Walsh was supposed to challenge lightweight titlist Ricky Burns in December but got into a minor car accident. Walsh hurt his back, and his shot at a world title was canceled. So the fight with Harrison will be Walsh’s first since July.

“I’ve got a lot of respect for Scott,” Walsh said. “I remember watching his fights years ago against Manuel Medina, shouting at the TV and cheering him on. So it seems a little surreal that I'm now gonna to be fighting him. On the other hand, that was years ago and this is a crucial fight for me to win on the way to a world title. I don't believe he is the same fighter he once was.

“I’m certainly not overawed by him. I'm young, fresh and very ambitious, but that makes the fight more appealing. It’s a good clash of styles. I'm very excited about this fight.”

Promoter Frank Warren also announced this week that he has added a rematch between Commonwealth light heavyweight champion Ovill McKenzie (21-11, 10 KOs), 33, of England, and former cruiserweight world titleholder Enzo Maccarinelli (35-6, 27 KOs), 32, of Wales, to the card.

Their fight in November ended in a second-round storm of controversy when referee Ian John-Lewis stopped the fight after Maccarinelli had barely been hit with anything. It was one of the worst stoppages ever.

“This is unfinished business for me and it’s going to be settled once and for all on the night,” Maccarinelli said. “Initially I was really disappointed with the result and felt that the referee had stepped in too early, but what’s happened has happened, there is no point looking back at it. All I want to do now is reverse the result with a win. There will be no dispute with the result this time, I’m back to my dynamite-punching best and I’m going to knock McKenzie clean out.”

Jamaican-born McKenzie said he’ll get the same result again this time around.

“The referee did Maccarinelli a big favor by stopping the fight early,” he said. “Another 30 seconds and he would have been knocked out. I think that it was stopped 10-15 seconds early and it robbed me of a KO win. Maccarinelli wants it again, but this will be his last fight. It will be a career-ender when I’ve finished with him. He’ll get the same treatment again and I’ll finish it inside two rounds again.”

Also on the card is former heavyweight title challenger Dereck Chisora (15-4, 9 KOs) of England against Andrej Pala (32-3, 22 KOs), 28, of the Czech Republic, in a 10-rounder. BoxNation televises the card in Great Britain. In the United States, Epix is slated to carry the Cleverly-Krasniqi and Chisora-Pala bouts.