Despite being decked in the eighth round and surviving a severely injured jaw Ricky Burns managed to hang onto his WBO lightweight crown by virtue of a majority 12 round draw against Ray Beltran in Glasgow, Scotland on Saturday night.
Burns appeared to have injured his jaw early in the fight, a result of being alarmingly caught so easily with big right hands for much of the fight. When the scores of 115-113 for Burns, 115-112 to Beltran and 114-114 even were read out the pro Burns crowd in attendance appeared to fall surprisingly silent.
Burns got off to a good start in the opening round, catching Beltran cold with his blinding hand speed, connecting with lefts counters and straight right hands.
Beltran settled down in the second round, unleashing a series of lefts and combination punches to the head that had Burns covering up on the ropes. Beltran connected with the left hook at will as Burns reduced his punch output. Beltran continued to have success in the third session as he forced Burns to abandon the long range fight in favour of mixing it up close. Beltran’s plan seemed to be working as it was he who was looking the more and more dangerous.
Burns was hurt in the fourth, the price he paid for trading with such a big puncher instead of keeping the fight at long range. Beltran, gaining more confident by the minute, landed a perfect left hook followed by a number of combinations to force Burns to cover up.
Burns recovered and attempted to work off his jab but Beltran walked him down, cut off the ring and continued to unleash a series of heavy shots.
The champion regrouped in the sixth round, settled down and started to tee off on Beltran with some well timed combinations of his own. The seventh followed the same pattern as Beltran seemed to take his foot off the gas for the first time in the fight. –
Beltran livened up again in the eighth round, catching Burns cold with a left hook that floored the champion. Burns did not look hurt by the knockdown but the follow attack turned his legs to jelly as Beltran sensed the possibility of a stoppage. To his credit Burns survived the onslaught and again was on the receiving end of more attacks in the ninth. The 10th appeared to get worse for Burns in the 10th as he complained of an injured jaw. Again Burns managed to survive and to his credit, showed the heart of a true champion in the 11th to fight back and nick the round as the challenger appeared to take his foot off the gas once more.
If Burns thought Beltran had nothing left he was very much mistaken in the 12th and final round as Beltran unloaded some heavy punches to catch the eye of the judges in a bid to make a lasting impression on the judges.
At the final bell Judge Carlos Ortiz judged Burns a 115-112 winner, Andre Van Grootenbruel of Belgium had the fight 115-113 for Beltran while British judge Richie Davies scored it even at 114-114.
Burns, 134.3 lbs of Scotland, fought with a severely injured jaw from round two on, is now 36-2-1 while Beltran, 134.8 lbs of North Hollywood, CA via Los Mochis, MX is now 28-6-1.