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30 JULY 2014

 

Ricky Burns Ready to Cook




By Tom Gray: The WBO Super Featherweight Champion, Ricky Burns, is immersed in hard training for his third title defence against London’s Nicky Cook.  The Scots star will meet the experienced challenger at Liverpool’s Echo Arena on July 16th in what will mark his first venture away from home as world champion.

Cook defeated Alex Arthur to win this very same title three years ago but he was destroyed by the huge punching Puerto Rican, Roman Martinez, in his first defence.  Burns, by comparison, was given his long sought after title shot last September and produced a sparking performance to dethrone Martinez in a fight of the year candidate.

This contest is Scotland vs. England, which makes it an easy sell, but will the quick punching champion have too much for the 31 year old veteran?  Cook has fought once since April 2009 and that was a six round warm up contest against a journeyman last month.  Should inactivity catch up with the challenger then Burns has the fitness and strength to expose that ruthlessly.

The following is a transcript of a recent interview with Ricky Burns, who spoke to this reporter, prior to a workout at The Fighting Scot’s Gym:

TG:         Ricky, less than one month until you third title defence, how is training going to this point?

RB:         Training is going really good at the minute.  We’re into full sparring and I’ve been working with Paul Appleby, who has recently started training.  Paul is coming forward a lot and that’s what we need right now.  I also hope to be sparring with John Simpson in the next couple of weeks.

TG:         After your impressive win over Joseph Laryea the attention switched to a possible unification fight with Mzonke Fana, which fell through.  Do you still have the ambition to unify at super featherweight and do you think fights with rival champions can be made?

RB:         I was disappointed when the Fana fight didn’t happen.  I’m willing to fight anyone but I can only take on what is put in front of me and that’s Nicky Cook.  I know that Fana has been stripped of the IBF title but he is still number one in The Ring ratings and that is the belt that I would like to go for.  Fingers crossed that I come through in July and we can speak to Frank Warren about getting that fight on again.

TG:         Your next opponent is former world champion, Nicky Cook.  Are you familiar with Nicky?

RB:         I’ve met Nicky a couple of times and he’s a nice guy.  I can remember when he beat Alex Arthur and then of course Roman Martinez knocked him out.   Regardless, styles make fights, and I can’t take much from that so I’m expecting a tough fight.  I’m training for twelve hard rounds, as I always do, and there is no way he is taking that belt away from me.

TG:         The concern about this contest is that Cook has been severely inactive.  You have fought five fights, three of those world title fights, while Nicky was on ice.  We know he had a six rounder recently but is a world title shot too much too soon?

RB:         I don’t look at it that way because he boxed Youssef Al Hamidi in London a few weeks ago which, ironically, was my warm up fight before I fought for the world title.  Nicky has been inactive and I know that when Martinez stopped him he complained about making the weight.  Almost two years down the line, will it be easier?  I like to think it will be a lot harder but we’ll find out on the 16th July.

TG:         You’ve hinted that you relish the challenge of fighting away from home in Liverpool.  Is fighting outside of Scotland something that you see becoming frequent?

RB           It’s good to have home support but a boxing ring is a boxing ring.  Frank Warren is looking to enhance my profile because everyone in Scotland knows me now.  I would like to fight down south which would keep my name out there but I do want to keep big fights at home.

TG:         Cook had mentioned that he took the title from a Scotsman and plans to regain it from another one.  Is that likely to stoke your fires?

RB:         Well, if you look at the poster behind us (country flags behind the respective fighters) this is what we’ve got - Scotland vs. England.  I met Nicky and as I said he’s a nice guy but in the ring it’s time to work.
 


TG:         Cook was crushed in his first defence by Roman Martinez, who you soundly outpointed in a career best performance to win the title.  Prior to the fourth round stoppage Nicky was giving Martinez fits with boxing tactics and he looked impressive.  Do you see a tactical battle unfolding with Cook?

RB:         We’ve been working on a few different game plans but I don’t want to give too much away.  We know Nicky is a good boxer but you can see after each fight that I’m getting stronger and more aggressive.  I can always go back to my boxing if need but who knows what version of Ricky Burns is going to turn up on the night.  We’ll just take it round by round.

TG:         You won the title from Martinez last September.  Should you come through against Cook is a mandatory defence your next stop?

RB:         I think a mandatory would be next.  I’ve heard the name Elroy Perez, who I think is promoted by Golden Boy Promotions, and should I come through against Cook I’m willing to mix it with anyone.  That’s what I’m in the game for – to fight the best.

TG:         Your mandatory challenger has shifted in recent months.  Australia’s Will Tomlinson is number one and fights on the undercard of Antonio Tarver and Danny Green on July 20th.    The highly touted Luis Cruz is ranked number two and has mentioned you more than once.  Have you had a look at either of them?

RB:         I’ve actually never heard of them (laughs).  I’ve always said; “anyone” and if it has to be one of them then it’s no problem.

TG:         From speaking to Billy a couple of months back I got the impression that your days were numbered as a super featherweight.  You were quoted recently as saying you would like to make a mark at 135 or 140lbs.  Now there’s talk that you might make an attempt to break Scott Harrison’s run of seven title defences.  Are your torn between both options?

RB:         Everyone says that I’m big for a super featherweight but I’m making the weight without issue.  Every boxer struggles with the last couple of pounds and if they don’t then they’re in the wrong weight class.  If I did move up I would still be big at lightweight and it’s definitely something to look out for.  As of right now I’m a super featherweight but if a big fight comes up at 135lbs then who knows.

TG:         The next month or so will see three British fighters go into high profile fights and I would like some predictions.

Macklin vs. Sturm?

RB:         From what I’ve heard Matthew’s preparation is going really well at the moment and I can see him coming away with the victory.

Khan vs. Judah

RB:         It’s a hard fight and it could be very awkward for Khan with the southpaw stance of Zab Judah.  I think as the fight moves into the later stages Khans’ speed and movement will take over and he’ll win that fight.

Haye vs. Klitschko

RB:         Well look at what Haye was able to do when he won the title.  The problem is the Klitschko jab and those long one-two combinations.  If Haye can get past the jab then I pick David Haye to win.

TG:         And finally what will happen with Nicky Cook on July 16th?  What do you see unfolding?

RB:         I’m not going to say too much.  I’ll do my talking in the ring but Ricky Burns will still be world champion.

 

 

 

The undercard will feature a thunderous collision between Tony Bellew and Ovill McKenzie, who meet in a rematch of their classic encounter last December.  The Commonwealth and vacant light heavyweight titles will be at stake.

Tickets are available from the Liverpool Echo Arena Box Office on 0844 8000 400 or echoarena.com and see the fight live on Sky Sports 1HD.



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