RICKY Burns, the world lightweight champion from Coatbridge, has been cleared by his doctors to resume full training after the latest scan on his right jaw revealed that the break he suffered more than three months ago is healing satisfactorily.
While any immediate doubts about Burns’ future appear to have been removed with the announcement yesterday, the 30-year-old WBO title-holder will not find out for sure if he has suffered any lasting legacy until his jaw is fully tested in sparring. But Burns, who sustained the injury in the most recent defence of his crown, against Mexican Raymundo Beltran at the SECC in September, is upbeat, albeit he still has no feeling in the lower right side of his face.
Such was the extent of the injury, inflicted in the second round, that Burns had to have a titanium plate fitted to hold his jaw in place.
Burns, who retained his title by dint of a controversial draw after somehow surviving 10 rounds while experiencing excruciating pain, is also waiting to find out exactly when he will make a mandatory defence – his fifth – against undefeated American Terence Crawford. But his manager, Alex Morrison, confirmed: “Ricky has been given the all-clear by his doctors and everything seems fine. His jaw has more or less fully healed although the plate will possibly stay in place permanently.
“We are just waiting for confirmation of a date for the Crawford fight. It’s looks likely to be the middle of February or maybe the end of that month.”
Promoter Eddie Hearn has provisionally booked the 12,000-capacity SSE Hydro Arena in Glasgow for 8 February but has taken the precaution of pencilling in three more dates on successive Saturdays prior to the WBO’s 7 March deadline. Burns said: “Obviously I won’t know how my jaw will react until I get hit, but I am now focused on beginning my preparations.
“As soon as a date is confirmed, we’ll know when to start sparring so I can test my jaw. The longer I can leave it the better, although I won’t be happy until my jaw has been hit a couple of times.”
Crawford, 26, from Omaha, has a perfect 22-0 record, including 16 stoppages, and is highly rated by his promoter, Bob Arum of Top Rank, who refused to sanction a rematch with Beltran, whom they also promote, insisting on a mandatory defence.
Burns also agrees that Crawford is “very good” after watching clips of the Nebraskan in action, adding: “If some people see me as the underdog that’s good, because that’s the way I like it.
“In the past people have said that some of the guys I’ve fought would wipe the floor with me but I always seem to manage to rise to the occasion.”