Ricky Burns will defend his WBA Super Lightweight title against Kiryl Relikh at the SSE Hydro in Glasgow on Friday October 7. Burns landed the belt at the venue in May with an eighth round stoppage win over Michele Di Rocco, adding the crown to his titles at Super Featherweight and Lightweight.
The Coatbridge star meets the dangerous unbeaten Belarussian who boasts a daunting record of 19 KOs from 21 fights, and Burns expects a serious test as he looks to line up a super-fight once he’s dealt with the 26 year old.
“My face at the end of the fight said everything – it meant so much to me that win and prove I still have so much to give,” said Burns. “It was great to be back in Glasgow and I said before I had to win to get those nights back again, not just for me but for the future of Scottish boxing.
“We have some talented kids coming through in Scotland and it’s important they get the chance to show what they can do live on Sky Sports.
“I put more pressure on myself in that fight than any other. I took plenty of stick before that as I was apparently finished and on the slide, everyone had written me off and it felt good to prove them wrong.
“I can’t thank my trainer Tony Sims enough for what he’s done, we’ve really worked hard together and when I was offered the Di Rocco fight – I grabbed it with both hands as I knew I could win.
“Relikh is a very tough fight as a first defence. He’s got a high KO ratio so he will be very dangerous throughout. Trust me he has my undivided attention and I will have to be at my best to get through this.
“There are some massive fights out there in the future against some huge names in the 140lbs division – but we’re taking it one step at a time, and that starts on October 7 at the Hydro.”
Relikh served notice of his World title credentials in his last three fights, landing the vacant Inter-Continental title in May with a second round stoppage over Lazaro Santos de Jesus in Bulgaria, defending it in October with a fifth round stoppage against Christian Ariel Lopez in Monaco and forcing Joaquim Carneiro to retire after four rounds in their clash for the belt in Bolton in May. The Ricky Hatton trained and promoted man has won his last 12 fights inside the distance, and Hatton believes Relikh will usurp Burns at the first hurdle.
“Kiryl is one of those cool, unflinching boxers – nothing fazes him,” said Hatton. “This is a big opportunity for him and he’s not bothered about being the underdog.
“Kiryl’s been training and boxing away from home for years so he’ll have no problem going to Scotland for the fight. I think having the crowd against him will bring the best out of him.
“Ricky Burns is a top class fighter. You don’t win three world titles by being anything less than world class, but there always has to be a changing of the guard and I think this could be Kiryl’s time.
“He’s been working with me in the gym for a while now and every day he’s been getting better and better so I believe people with be a little bit surprised with what they see when gets it on with Burns.”
A stacked undercard will support Burns’ clash with Relikh, with Scotty Cardle defending his British Lightweight title against Kevin Hooper, Commonwealth Games gold medal favourite Charlie Flynn tackling Manchester’s Kofi Yates, outings for Flynn’s Commonwealth Games teammate Joe Ham and Brixton’s Heavyweight star Dillian Whyte, plus more to be added.