Boxing: Promoter De La Hoya courting Ricky Burns

Ricky Burns. Picture: SNS
Ricky Burns. Picture: SNS
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THE tug of war which has broken out over the future of Scotland’s world boxing champion Ricky Burns took a dramatic turn last night with the intervention of the Golden Boy himself, Oscar De La Hoya.

The great American multi-weight champion has clearly been following the saga of Burns and his manager Alex Morrison and their split from current promoter Frank Warren.

It was reported by the BBC that Matchroom Boxing, led by Barry Hearn’s son Eddie, was about to sign Burns, but Warren has absolutely not relinquished his hold on the Scot and lawyers’ letters have been flying around – they no doubt mention Warren’s contractual rights to the fighter.

Now De La Hoya, pictured above, has made a personal plea to be considered as the new promoter of Burns despite Golden Boy chief executive Richard Schaefer saying yesterday that they would not be speaking to Burns unless he becomes a free agent.

“He is still under contract to Frank Warren and a fighter cannot simply declare that they are free and then the next day sign with another promoter,” said Schaefer, and while the Golden Boy agreed, he would like to promote Burns, below right. “We always look for the best talent,” said De La Hoya. “We always look for fighters from all over the world.

“It would be terrific and a pleasure to be working with him. We haven’t really discussed it among Golden Boy but it is definitely something that we can take a look at if he is a free agent. I know he is an exciting fighter and has a great following, and who wouldn’t want to go to Scotland and play some nice golf?”

Burns’ decision to leave Warren’s camp came after the postponement of his unification bout with IBF belt-holder Miguel Vázquez, when the Mexican was struck down with a viral infection caused by food poisoning.

Another twist in the story came yesterday with former two-time WBO featherweight champion Scott Harrison offering to take up the cudgels against his fellow Lanarkshire boxer: “I will be ready to fight by the end of March. I have had a couple of tune-up bouts and I am ready to give the fans the fight that Scotland wants to see, which is me against Ricky Burns. It would be a good fight and a cracking fight for the fans.”

De La Hoya, who turned 40 last month, is currently promoting next month’s fight between Amir Khan and Julio Diaz in Sheffield.

The promoter and both fighters took part in a press conference yesterday to talk up a fight which really needs no hyping – it is the last chance saloon for both fighters, as 33-year-old Diaz at least acknowledged. “This is a very critical fight for my career,” said former world lightweight champion Diaz from Mexico. “I’ve come back with the plan to win a world title and to prove that I still have the tools to be in contention for a world title.

“I know that Amir has the same pressure on him as he is on a comeback, and a loss for him would be devastating.

“It will be a solid clean fight as I don’t like to hold. I don’t think it will go 12 rounds, and I am training for a knockout.”

Khan has a new trainer, the highly-respected American Virgil Hunter, and after ruling out a fight with Burns should the Scot step-up a weight, the former world champion from Bolton laid out his stall.

“It is going to be a tough fight,” said Khan. “He has been in with big names and he has a good knockout record. He is very experienced and I have a lot of respect for Julio for accepting the challenge to come to the UK.

• Tickets for Amir Khan vs. Julio Diaz: www.motorpoint or 0114-256 5656.