WBO lightweight titleholder Ricky Burns believes his proposed unification showdown with IBF counterpart Miguel Vazquez, on March 16 at Wembley Arena, London, Eng., should silence the snipers claiming the Scot is dodging the division’s elite.
Burns, THE RING’s No. 4-ranked lightweight, is relishing the prospect of facing the 26-year-old Mexican, the magazine’s No. 2 contender, and measuring himself against the very best.
As for those skeptics wondering why Vazquez (33-3, 13 knockouts) is his next opponent, rather than THE RING’s No. 1-rated lightweight, WBC beltholder Adrien Broner (25-0, 21 KOs), Burns has a simple explanation.
Yes, he was offered a unification fight with the fast-rising American star. Yes, he would love to have taken it. However, the Feb. 16 date was just too soon for 29-year-old Scot, who had enjoyed a fortnight off over Christmas following the cancelation of a scheduled December defense.
However, the message for 2013 is clear. If all goes well against Vazquez, he definitely plans to be in a ring with Broner come the summer.
“It’s the big fights you want. I don’t think many people expected this Vazquez fight for me. A lot of people thought, ‘he’ll just have another easy defense’, but I’ve gone the total opposite way,” Burns (35-2, 10 KOs)told Box Nation, which will broadcast the ‘Rule Britannia’ show that also features WBO light heavyweight holder Nathan Cleverly’s mandatory defense against Robin Krasniqi.
“I only found about the Vazquez fight at the start of last week when they rang my manager. Nobody was more surprised than me but I just said, ‘take it, take the fight.’ We’d never spoken about this unification fight as, obviously, the talk had been about fighting Broner but that fell through.
“The only reason that fight is not happening was because there was too little preparation time. Everybody knows that I was ready to fight in December, until it got pulled three or four days before. All the work was done. I was on the weight. Although the fight didn’t happen, I needed a break and took a couple of weeks off.
“It’s when I’d just started back that I got the call offering the Broner fight. I had seven weeks to prepare and that wasn’t enough. That’s the only reason it’s not happening now.
“People say I am avoiding him and that I avoided him at super featherweight as well. But anybody who knows me knows I’m not ducking Broner. This is a fight that’s going to happen and it’s a fight I want.
“We are looking at maybe June for that. But I might be getting a bit far ahead of myself because I’ve got a very tough task first against Vazquez.”
Not that Burns, on a 20-fight winning streak, doubts he has the skill and power to dismantle Vazquez – even if he expects others to view him the underdog.
“No matter what I do, from the start of my career I’ve always taken stick. Everybody writes me off and no doubt it will be the same against Vazquez,” Burns said.
“I’ve seen a couple of his fights and he’s a very technical boxer, very evasive. He likes to stick to his boxing; he’s not your typical Mexican style. He likes to get in and out – but styles make fights and it’s one I think I can win.”