IF KEEPING his world lightweight title was not enough of an incentive, Ricky Burns now has another reason to beat Raymundo Beltran in Glasgow’s SECC next Saturday night.
The arrival of his first son in midweek may have been somewhat procrastinated – the baby was due a fortnight before he arrived, and mother Amanda was almost two days in labour (nor does the new baby have a name – Amanda was convinced she was going to have a girl and hadn’t settled on a boy’s name) – but the delighted new dad is seeing his expanded family as a real spur to his fists.
“I’ve always been hungry for my fights but now I have even more to fight for with my little boy,” said Burns. “I’m fighting to give him a great start in life and it’s definitely something that will drive me on to win not just next weekend, but in all my future fights.”
A birth less than ten days before heading into a world championship fight might distract anyone and Burns admits that it did, but the WBO champion’s mind is now clear and focused on the very dangerous Beltran.
Burns said: “Of course Amanda’s health and my son have been on my mind, but they’re both doing great and I couldn’t be happier.
“The timing could’ve been better, but that’s life. I’d rather the baby come a week before the fight than just after as I would’ve had the phone on all the time and waiting for the call while I’m close to making weight or ready to step into the ring.
“Now he’s here, I can relax knowing that after I win I’ll be going home to my new family – it’s a great thought and something totally new, of course.”
Amanda was pregnant in the run-up to Burns’ last fight against Jose Chelo Gonzalez in Glasgow in May, but as the birth drew nearer, the man from Coatbridge went into training for the Beltran fight with his wife’s blessing.
Burns explained: “It’s easy to say it now, but the build-up hasn’t been affected by the baby really. Yes, I wanted to make sure Amanda and the baby were OK but she was in great hands, and I would probably have got on her nerves if I’d been around. It was a really long labour – two days basically – so she was really tired of course but I’m sure she’d agree that it’s worth it and we’ve got a beautiful little boy now.”
Beltran comes to Glasgow having never fought outside the USA, where he now lives in Arizona, or his native Mexico. Like Burns, he moved up from the super-featherweight ranks and his record of 28 wins against six losses, with 17 of those victories by stoppage, indicates that he may be one of those Latin American bangers just like Burns’ last opponent was supposed to be.
If so, Burns better be prepared for a shock as Beltran, like Jose Gonzalez, has no little skill. The Puerto Rican caught Burns by surprise before quitting with a broken wrist – he has not fought since – as the champion admitted.
Burns said: “Gonzalez was a lot better technically than we thought he was going to be. We were expecting him to come out firing and try to drag me into a fight, but he was on the back foot a lot more than I thought he’d be.
“I was lunging in and trying to force the pace and looking back now, I can see what I should’ve done.
“For this fight, we’ve gone back to basics a bit and we’re making sure that doesn’t happen again. He’s sparred with Manny Pacquiao for years and they get on well, but I’ve known this is going to be a tough fight and there may be times that I have to dig deep but I am prepared for a hard 12 rounds as I always am.”
The undercard features the always exciting Paul Appleby and Callum Smith against opponents yet to be named, while Leith’s Stephen Simmons fights for his first title, the WBC International Silver Cruiserweight belt, against David Graf. Scotty Cardle against Gary Fox is another mouth-watering contest. The main event will be a cracker, however. North American Boxing Federation champion Beltran is a real danger, not least because at 32 he’s in the last chance saloon at world level. But he has never fought anyone of the class of the Scot, and Daddy Burns is taken to win late on.