RICKY Burns, the former WBO lightweight champion, will return to the ring at Braehead Arena on 27 June against Montenegrin Dejan Zlaticanin in a WBC title eliminator, which holds the promise of a world championship bout for the winner.
But the anticipated fireworks between Edinburgh cruiserweight Stephen Simmons and Wadi Camacho at yesterday’s media conference in Glasgow turned out to be a damp squib.
The bitter rivals have history after a verbal spat in January threatened to spiral out of control when Simmons invited the Barcelona-born Camacho to trade punches in a car park.
Simmons was enraged by crude comments his opponent had posted on Facebook disrespecting both his fiancée and family. Mercifully, the pair were prevented from coming to blows.
However, it transpires that the unsavoury spat was brought to the attention of the Scottish Area Council of the British Boxing Board of Control, who have ordered Camacho to explain himself before they sanction the bout on the Burns undercard. Promoter Eddie Hearn felt therefore it was best that Camacho stayed away in case he inflamed the situation further.
Burns, meanwhile, says he rediscovered his hunger after relinquishing his crown to American Terence Crawford two months ago.
The 31-year-old Coatbridge boxer has also pledged to become a three-time champion once he has dealt with Zlaticanin, 30, who is ranked ninth by the WBC and is undefeated in 18 fights. The pair will contest the vacant WBC International title, with the winner earmarked to face current champion Omar Figueroa.
Burns recently changed trainers, from Billy Nelson to Essex-based Tony Sims, and he said: “While I was obviously disappointed at losing my world title, the changes I have made in an effort to freshen things up has given me my hunger back.
“I am also enjoying my boxing a lot more, too, and losing to Crawford has also made me more determined. I have a point to prove to myself that I have another world title in me and hopefully I’ll go out and do some damage.
“We had a training camp in Spain and they are a great bunch to work alongside. I have also had quality sparring, including with Kevin Mitchell ahead of his world title eliminator at the end of the month.
“Before deciding to go to London I spoke about the switch with my wife, Amanda and my manager, Alex Morrison and explained my intentions and they were happy for me to do it. Being away from home means I leave all the distractions behind and I can concentrate fully on my boxing. Basically, I train, eat and sleep and come home every second weekend to be with my family and it’s working out well.”
Burns added: “I was disappointed with some of the things that were said after the Crawford fight. Everybody is entitled to an opinion, but some people were saying I was finished and not as good as they had thought. It was claimed that I had found my level after over-achieving. But I never, ever said at any time I was going to do this and that.”
Meanwhile, George Groves will not “lose any sleep” over a rematch with James DeGale if he dethrones WBA and IBF super-middleweight world champion Carl Froch at Wembley Stadium.
DeGale will fight on the Froch-Groves undercard on 31 May and challenger Groves pledged to respect the mandatory fight calls should he claim Froch’s titles at the end of the month. The 26-year-old Londoner admitted he would be happy to face a rematch against DeGale, after beating him on points to the British super-middleweight title in 2011.
“I won’t think past this fight because you can never tell what’s going to come after this,” said Groves. “This is being billed as the biggest fight in British boxing history, and once I beat Carl I might have a mandatory and that might be James DeGale.
“It’s not a fight I’m going to lose any sleep over, though, because I’d beat James DeGale seven nights of the week.
“Again, it will be excitement about the new challenge, and as a new world champion people would be coming looking for me. So I don’t need to think about things like that, because in that situation every door will open for me.”