RICKY Burns has attempted to play down fears that the broken jaw he suffered against Mexican Raymundo Beltran six months ago will be a significant factor when he makes the fifth defence of his WBO lightweight title at the Scottish Exhibition Centre in Glasgow tomorrow evening.
But, in spite of the Coatbridge boxer’s best efforts to allay fears that he will be hampered physically and mentally when undefeated American Terence Crawford targets the right side of his face, the challenger’s camp were at pains to highlight the issue.
Brian McIntyre, 26-year-old Crawford’s trainer, insisted: “I’m sure the jaw is a weakness. I think it’s more mental than anything. He says he’s tested it in camp, but it’s alright saying that when you’ve got big gloves and headgear on. When you’ve only got eight-ounce gloves on, nothing but skin on your jaw, with the power that Terence generates I believe it’s going to be a lot bigger test than he expects.
“It’s going to be a real shock, that first punch he takes from Terence, and he’s going to have to adjust. And we all know what Burns does when he gets in trouble, he holds and he runs and I feel he might have to go back to his plan B or C.
“I don’t care if it’s his tenth title fight, whatever business you’re in, someone eventually comes and takes your spot. It’s the cycle of boxing, like the cycle of life, and this is Terence’s time now. Terence can be as big as he wants to be in this game. I’m excited for both fighters, especially Terence, who has worked very hard to get to this point.
“I think Ricky will be surprised by just how elusive Terence is. He’s hard to hit, he has fast hands, quick feet and quick, sudden movements. There will be fast punches coming at Ricky that he won’t have seen anything like before, especially with the power Terence has.
“I feel like, if the knockout is there, Terence is definitely going to go for it. If not, he’s well prepared to go the 12 rounds, outbox him, stalk him down, counter-punch, take the lead, whatever he needs to do to win the fight.” But Burns countered: “They can say what they want; I have no fears about my jaw. I have no physical weakness and no mental issues.
“For six weeks I had unbelievable quality of sparring, starting off with David Brophy, who is a big, big guy and I took a few skelps off him. Then I did a week in London sparring Kevin Mitchell, Martin Ward and Luke Campbell as well. I also did three weeks sparring with Lee Selby, Tyrone Nurse and Terry Flannigan, all of them very good, and my jaw took plenty of punishment and it seems to be holding up.
“I didn’t use full face headgear either, just the type with cheek protectors and the jaw is there to be hit, so I’ve put it to the back of my mind.”