RICKY Burns is hoping to give a big home crowd plenty to shout about at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow tonight by hanging on to his WBO lightweight title and spoiling opponent Jose Gonzalez’s hopes of taking it home as a Mother’s Day present.
“It is great fighting in Scotland,” said the Coatbridge man. “I remember when Scott Harrison was world champion and I used to get on all his undercards, it was great and this is great for the up-and-coming fighters to get the opportunity to get on the big shows and show everybody what they can do.
“You have pressure on you knowing that you are going into these big fights defending your title but with the crowd I put that to the back of my mind and don’t let anything bother me.”
Gonzalez, the unbeaten mandatory challenger from Puerto Rico, and Burns both tipped the scales at 9st 8lbs and half an ounce at the weigh-in yesterday in the city’s St Enoch shopping centre.
With the countdown until both fighters step into the ring now started, Gonzales talked about one special reason for wanting to win.
“If I win the fight it is going to be a special moment for me and my family,” said the 29-year-old. “I am going to dedicate the win to my mother. Where I come from, Puerto Rico, the next day (Sunday) is Mother’s Day.
“She doesn’t like to watch me fight live, she just watches on television but I know she is supportive to me and I am going to win the title for her.”
Gonzalez is unbeaten in 22 fights with 17 of them won inside the distance, but he acknowledges that he is stepping up in class against the Scot, who will be making his second defence of his WBO title. “I respect Ricky Burns as a boxer and as a person,” he said.
“He is the best I have ever fought, he is two-times world champion. He has got a lot of skills, he is a good boxer, and he throws a lot of punches. I respect that a lot but this is one opportunity I have in my life to prove I am a true boxer too.
“I have got big chance against Ricky, he is a good fighter but he is not invincible. I have a good team around me and we have done a excellent job in the gym. We are going to pressure him, throw a lot of punches, get to the body and do a job on him.”
On the undercard, Greenock boxer John Simpson meets Choi Tseveenpurev for the WBC International title in the main support bout. Simpson scaled 9st 3lbs and ‘The Mongolian Warrior’ Choi, 9st 1lbs 8oz. The third title bout on the card pits cruiserweights Stephen Simmons and Michael Sweeney for the vacant Celtic title, with Simmons scaling 14st 1lb and half an ounce and Sweeney 14st 3lbs and half an ounce
There is also action in Doncaster tonight where Jamie McDonnell never dreamt he would fight for a world title – because he is not even a boxing fan. The bantamweight can complete an impressive rise tonight when he faces unbeaten Mexican Julio Ceja for the vacant IBF belt in front of his own fans at the Keepmoat Stadium. Claiming a world title will be his greatest achievement but the Yorkshireman admits he can hardly claim to be fulfilling a childhood ambition.
McDonnell (20-2-1, 9KOs) said: “Everyone says ‘it’s my dream to win a world title’ but do you know what, it was never a dream for me.
“You just take each fight as it comes. I didn’t even know what a British title was when I boxed for it because I’m not a boxing fan. I don’t follow it. I do it because I’m good at it and it pays well but I’ve not seen your Muhammad Ali fights and Mike Tyson fights because I’m not a boxing person.
“I like doing it and I’m obviously good at it. I didn’t dream of winning a world title. I hadn’t even seen a world title belt or knew what one looked like until a few years ago and I started winning things.
“I won the English, British and Commonwealth titles and that’s when I started taking notice because when you’ve got some belts you start getting more attention. Then I won the European and you start thinking ‘chuffing hell, the next step is a world title’.”