RICKY Burns, the WBO lightweight champion from Coatbridge, will make a fifth defence of his title against mandatory American challenger Terence Crawford in the first part of the New Year.
But it is unclear exactly when Burns will face the undefeated 26-year-old Nebraskan after the Scot’s promoter Eddie Hearn revealed that the 30-year-old is to have a further scan on his broken right jaw. According to Hearn, it may be as late as 1 March before Burns returns to the ring after he underwent surgery following his controversial draw with Raymundo Beltran at the SECC in September.
Purse bids had been scheduled to open yesterday, but Hearn avoided the need to haggle by agreeing a deal with Top Rank chief Bob Arum at the weekend.
Hearn originally tried to persuade the WBO to sanction a voluntary rematch with Beltran, but Top Rank – promoters of both the Mexican and Crawford – insisted on a mandatory defence.
Confirming that he has pencilled in 8 February at the SSE Hydro Arena, Hearn stressed that the date is flexible and may change depending on the latest medical reports.
Hearn said: “I would love to be the first to promote boxing at the Hydro but that is only eight weeks away on Saturday and it will depend on when the doctors give Ricky the all-clear to begin sparring.
“The fight has to take place before 7 March and if Ricky needs more time we may put it back until 15 or 22 of February or even 1 March.
“Ricky is due to begin sparring next week, but he won’t do so until the doctors give him the go ahead.
“But he has been training for the past month to build his fitness and we have been assured that once he starts sparring he’ll be absolutely fine. It’s just a question of when.”
• Liverpool heavyweight David Price has been forced to pull out of his scheduled comeback bout in Germany next Saturday due to a virus. Price was due to fight Evgeny Orlov in Neubrandenburg in his first bout since the second of his back-to-back stoppage defeats to American Tony Thompson in June. Price said: “I wouldn’t be doing myself or my fans justice by taking the fight when I am anything less than 100 per cent.”