Ricky Burns believes he can become a world champion again by the end of the year as he takes on Dejan Zlaticanin at the Braehead Arena in Glasgow on Friday night.
Burns meets the unbeaten Montenegrin in an eliminator for the World title and the Scot is keen to get right back on the World title trail after losing is WBO crown to Terence Crawford in March.
The 31 year old has never fought for the coveted green of the WBC, and while his focus is on Zlaticanin, he says a good performance can land him a shot at Figueroa, a champion he believes he could beat.
Here’s what Burns has had to say:
“Eddie said that I need to come through this first but if I do then he’ll be pushing for me to fight Figueroa.
“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.
“A lot of people have said to me are you moving up to Light Welterweight but 100 per cent I am staying at Lightweight, there are some huge fights out there for me at the weight, the rematches with Beltran and Crawford are big ones, there’s Miguel Vasquez and there’s some great British fights too.
“I make Light Welterweight to 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 haven’t watched any footage of Dejan. I know he’s undefeated in 18 fights with 13 KOs but I don’t think he’s boxed outside his hometown so you don’t really know the level of opponents he’s facing.
“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 have got to him and hurt him I will be looking to close the show, but as long as I win that’s the main thing.
“I think you will see a different Ricky Burns in the ring. I am happier in the gym, I am in with a great bunch of lads and I’ve really enjoyed the camp so I think that will show on Friday.”
Burns’ clash with Zlaticanin is part of a huge night of action in Glasgow as Willie Limond defends his Commonwealth title against Curtis Woodhouse who puts his British crown on the line in the process.
Meanwhile, new trainer Tony Sims believes Burns has the desire to get back on top as well.
It’s Burns’ first fight with new trainer Sims and the Scotsman has relocated to Essex to reignite his career after surrendering his WBO crown to talented American Terence Crawford in March. Burns has his sights set on the coveted green belt belonging to Omar Figueroa, and Sims sees the same passion in Burns that drove former Middleweight king Darren Barker to top the world after his injury setbacks.
Here’s what Sims had to say:
“It’s about the desire.
“If that is there for Ricky after losing his World title then he can definitely come again and be World champion. He’s got plenty of hunger and he wants to prove it so he’s got a great chance to go again because he has the right attitude.
“Darren had to suffer a lot to get to the top but he always had it in him to achieve his World title goal and I think Ricky is made of the same stuff.
“Ricky lost the World title to Terence Crawford who is a great fighter. Ricky has taken a massive step leaving home and coming down to Essex, he knows that there is a lot of quality sparring down here for him and to put yourself in the position he has is a big ask but he has made that commitment 100 per cent and I am sure it is going to pay off. He’ll stay at Lightweight, he makes the weight well and he’s got a good standing in there.”
“It’s great to be working with Ricky.
“I’m working with his old foe Kevin Mitchell too who has won an eliminator for the World title so there’s two World class Lightweights in the gym and they are both hunting for another belt.
“Ricky has settled in great here. Ricky and Kevin were mates before they boxed and they still are, they complement each other in sparring and it’s always competitive but they both get a lot out of it. They are the top two lightweights in Britain and they are both World class fighters and they get to spar each other on a regular basis, you can’t beat that.
“He’s had some quality sparring with Luke Campbell MBE coming down to Essex regularly, George Carman, John Ryder and so on, he’s based himself down here for 10 to 12 weeks and he’s trained really well, starting back when he helped Kevin through his sparring for his fight at Wembley.
“Luke is a southpaw and very quick so we’ve been using him for his movement and to copy Zlaticanin, George is a couple of weights up so he’s heavy but still quick and John has a squat style and is a come forward fighter. We’ve used three or four southpaws to prepare because I want Ricky both out boxing and out punching him.
“Zlaticanin is unbeaten and he can obviously bang a bit. He’s short and comes forward and likes to bang in big hooks, so we’ve trained well for that.
“I haven’t changed anything in his boxing style, he is 31 now, he’s late in his career and I am just trying to add tiny things to his style that I hope will be noticeable in this fight.”