Scotland almost lost its only world professional champion last night when Ricky Burns survived an awesome onslaught from Mexican challenger Raymundo Beltran to earn a draw and retain his WBO lightweight belt.
Many ringside observers had Beltran ahead, but the judges’ scorecards are very instructive. Carlos Ortiz Jnr had it 115-112 to Burns, Andrew Van Grootenbruel scored it 115-113 to Beltran while UK judge Richie Davies scored it 114-114, proving that many rounds were very, very close to call.
It emerged later that Burns had dislocated his jaw in the second round, in which case this was an incredibly courageous performance by the champion.
The decision was a sore one for Beltran who felt aggrieved and blamed “politics” for the result. The Mexican knocked Burns to the floor in the eighth round and felt he had done more than enough to win. He was also upset that the Scot had been allowed to cling to him without punishment.
Burns’s wife Amanda gave birth to their first child, a boy, nine days ago. She had been convinced she was going to have a girl, which possibly explained the pink shade of his gloves and shorts.
The crowd rose to acclaim their hero, and the SECC was soon resounding to bigger roars than were ever heard at any rock concert in the venue.
Unlike his lacklustre performance against Jose Gonzalez in May, the champion opened up with pinpoint accuracy, his body punches being particularly impressive.
Having taken the opener, Burns continued to dominate until Beltran finally put together a sustained attack, and his image of being a brawler proved accurate.
The third saw Burns score with the jab, but the challenger threw plenty in reply. Burns evaded most of the blows cleverly, however, and the champion was edging ahead.
Beltran had other thoughts, and staggered Burns with a left hook in the fourth. Somehow the challenger was unable to capitalise, and though he trapped the champion on the ropes, Burns evaded further real punishment, returning to his successful jab-and-move tactics in the fifth.
Try as he might, and he tried mightily, Beltran could not turn his aggression into clear scoring points, and in the sixth we saw a classic boxer versus streetfighter in which the Mexican was picked off by some sharp shots.
Round seven had been the turning point for Burns against Gonzalez, and once again it proved significant for the champion who landed a plethora of jabs and one-two combinations on Beltran’s obviously hard head.
The eighth round proved tumultuous for Burns. A huge left haymaker knocked Burns down but the champion recovered quickly and kept Beltran at bay.
Burns did just enough to survive the ninth, but as the championship rounds were entered, Beltran kept up his limited variety of attacking options and the champion’s physical strengths came into play as he smothered the Mexican in clinch after clinch. Burns needed to win the last round and he edged it, and though overall Beltran probably deserved the verdict, the champion’s earlier clean punches and sheer courage got him the draw.
Chief supporting bout saw Steve Simmons of Leith lift the WBC International Silver Championship with a convincing victory on points over David Graf of Germany. Celtic cruiserweight champion Simmons started well and had he stuck to body punching rather than going looking for a spectacular knockout he might have finished the bout early.
Taking his first step up the title ladder was Jon Slowey of Glasgow who convincingly beat Angel Lorente of Spain for the WBC international featherweight silver championship, the 22-year-old winning by a wide margin on all three scorecards.
Lytham-based Scot, Scott Cardle, counterpunched his way to victory over Gary Fox in an eight-round lightweight contest, 79-73.
Former British featherweight champion Paul Appleby returned to the ring after more than a year out.He has moved up to light-welterweight, and had too much experience for Lee Connelly of Derbyshire, winning on points.