Friday, March 24, 2023  |



Ricky Burns, Callum Smith and Brian Rose victorious in England


Former two-weight world champion Ricky Burns finally managed to secure a “W” in an eight-round junior welterweight attraction by dropping and then outpointing Alexandre Lepelley in Leeds, England.

The official score, submitted by the referee, was 79-71 in favor of Burns although that tally didn’t reflect the competitive nature of the bout.

“He was a tough opponent and I have a few big decisions to make in regards to weight,” said Burns, casting doubt over a permanent move to 140 pounds. “I made junior welterweight easily and, after I’ve had a good think, I may be back at lightweight and then it’s game on.”

The 31-year-old Scotsman, who has gone 0-2-1 in his three most recent outings, found a brief touch of the sizzle and determination which saw him post a three and a half year stint at world level, but he still didn’t have things all his own way – far from it.

Burns decked Lepelley (17-2-1, 3 knockouts) with a sharp left hook in the opener and, at that point, the contest looked like a formality. It was not to be, however, and the French visitor fought back bravely for the remainder of the engagement, and landed more than he should have against an infinitely more experienced opponent.

Burns got off well with the right in Round 2 but, during the middle sessions, began to absorb powerful single blows to head and body. Dropping back to the eight-round route will have been difficult for the proud former champion to accept and, as a result, he seemed eager to impress against an inferior opponent.

Similar chances cost Burns badly against Dejan Zlaticanin, who outpointed him in June.

Lepelley was deducted a point in Round 7 for use of the head and the Scot scored well in the final session to pull away on the cards. In reality Burns (37-4-1, 11 KOs) did the better work throughout the contest and will be happy to post a victory, he just wasn’t at his best tonight.

Both fighters weighed in at 139.75 pounds.

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­­­Super-hot talent Callum Smith battered the body of Rafael Sosa Pintos relentlessly until the overmatched Uruguayan could no longer ignore the pain. The visitor was on the canvas three times in the eight-round super middleweight attraction and finally succumbed to a third-round stoppage.

The official time was 2:20.

Smith enjoyed a huge height advantage and was literally forced to attack the midsection as his opponent carried an exaggeratedly high guard throughout. It was target practice for as long as it lasted and Smith had to move well in order to cut off a constantly retreating opponent.

The body work began after the opening three minutes, which were mere reconnaissance. Placed left hooks rattled, and reddened the visitor’s body, and he couldn’t run forever. In the third a right hook to the ribs dropped Pintos hard in a neutral corner and the reward for rising was another bursting body shot, this time from the left, which deposited him on the canvas again.

It was academic, and another picturesque left hook to the liver area removed Pintos from the contest. The 24-year-old Smith is 6 feet 3 inches tall, one of the top prospects in the U.K. shores and, at 14-0 (11 KOs), is already being linked to a showdown with countryman George Groves.

His next outing will be a WBC eliminator against Nikola Sjeklo─ça, a Serbia-based Montenegrin, on the undercard of Nathan Cleverly versus Tony Bellew on Nov. 22.

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Former world title challenger Brian Rose, from Blackpool, England, dropped overmatched journeyman Ignacio Fraga three times to register a first-round stoppage at middleweight.

The official time was 2:58.

Fraga, from Argentina, failed to land an effective blow and the gulf in experience and class was disconcerting. Thumping right hands to the head were responsible for each knockdown and, although there was no three knockdown rule in effect, the referee wisely halted the action.

This scheduled eight rounder was Rose’s first bout since Demetrius Andrade stopped him in the fifth round of a WBO junior middleweight title bout in June.

Tom Gray is a member of the British Boxing Writers’ Association and has contributed to various publications. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing