Ricky Burns says move to junior welterweight will prove he still has it
Former WBO lightweight titleholder Ricky Burns will make his junior welterweight debut against Leonardo Esteban Gonzalez on Oct. 4 in an attempt to end a two-fight losing streak at The First Direct Arena in Leeds, England, Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Sport announced on Thursday.
Burns (36-4-1, 11 knockouts) had gone unbeaten in 22 fights before falling by consecutive unanimous and split-decision to undefeated fighters Terence Crawford and Dejan Zlaticanin in March and June, respectively.
Burns was dethroned as WBO titleholder by Crawford at The Scottish Exhibition Centre, Glasgow, Scotland before being floored in the first round of his next loss to Zlaticanin at The Braehead Arena in Glasgow.
A 32-year-old Argentine, Gonzalez (22-5-1, 15 KOs) is coming off a fourth-round knockout of Adrian Marcelo Flamenco in May that helped him to bounce back from a seventh-round stoppage loss in October 2013 to Paulus Moses, whom Burns vanquished by unanimous decision in March 2012.
“I believe that the move up in weight will really benefit me,” said Burns, 31. “The lightweight limit 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 Tony Sims.”
Burns won the WBO’s 130-pound belt with a unanimous decision over previously unbeaten Roman Martinez in September 2010, then made three defenses before moving up to the 135-pound division where he won the WBO’s interim lightweight belt with a unanimous decision against tough veteran Michael Katsidis in late 2011 and then earned the full-world WBO title with a unanimous decision over once-beaten contender Paulus Moses in early 2012.
Burns looked sharp defending the title with a fourth-round TKO of British contender Kevin Mitchell, but in September 2013, he had to rise from an eighth-round knockdown to salvage a disputed draw with Ray Beltran. Burns suffered a broken jaw during the Beltran fight that required the insertion of a titanium plate to repair.
“It has been a tough year following the Raymundo Beltran fight,” said Burns. “But I’m feeling great in the gym, and the fire and desire is still there to achieve big things.”
Before facing Beltran, Burns had won 21 straight bouts, eight of them by knockout, since falling by unanimous decision to Carl Johanneson in February 2007.
Among his triumphs during that time was the Mitchell stoppage and a ninth-round TKO of previously unbeaten Jose A. Gonzalez in May 2013.
“I’m looking to show in Leeds that I’ve still got the goods,” said Burns. “I want to challenge for major belts, and ultimately, to win another World title.”
Note: Quotes provided by Matchroom Sport