WORLD champion Ricky Burns will return to the ring at the recently-opened SSE Hydro Arena in Glasgow on 8 February next year, almost certainly against mandatory WBO lightweight title challenger Terence Crawford.
The 30-year-old Coatbridge boxer’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, had hoped to persuade the WBO to allow Burns to make a voluntary defence against Raymundo Beltran, the man who broke his jaw at the SECC in September when the judges caused an outcry by scoring the bout a draw.
Top Rank, who promote both Beltran and Crawford, have dug their heels in, though, and are demanding that Burns make a mandatory defence of his crown.
Hearn confirmed yesterday that he has booked the 12,000-capacity venue, which officially opened in September, following the collapse of former world champion David Haye’s proposed showdown with Tyson Fury on that date.
He said: “When the Haye-Fury fight fell through, 8 February became a free Sky date.
“Apart from Braehead Arena, the only other venue free on that date is the Hydro and we have booked that because we want to be the first to stage major boxing there.
“We want to promote a rematch with Beltran and he also wants the fight, but Top Rank would have to persuade Crawford to step aside meantime. They have made it very clear that they want Ricky to fight Crawford, so I think we are looking at a mandatory defence or a possible unification fight, and, if it’s Crawford, the split is 75-25 in favour of the champion.
“I am very confident that I could bring him to Scotland as we are not looking to going to America to fight Crawford.
“It would take an incredible deal for that to happen. However, if they want to make Ricky a seven-figure offer, he will willingly go to Madison Square Garden to defend his title.”