I’m no rookie – Michele Di Rocco ahead of Ricky Burns bout

Ricky Burns, left, and Michele Di Rocco at a press conference ahead of their world title clash. Picture: Steve Welsh
Ricky Burns, left, and Michele Di Rocco at a press conference ahead of their world title clash. Picture: Steve Welsh
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It may be stretching things to describe Michele Di Rocco, at the age of 34, as a rookie but in the rarefied realms of boxing that is exactly what he is.

The Italian may be the reigning European light-welterweight champion but he will be having his first world title fight when he climbs through the ropes to face Ricky Burns for the vacant WBA light-welterweight title at Glasgow’s SSE Hydro on Saturday.

Burns, in contrast, has already won the WBO super-featherweight belt and will be attempting to become only the third Briton to succeed in three weight divisions.

The Scot will be making his 10th appearance on the global stage but, according to 
Di Rocco, it will also be his last.

“This is my chance, my opportunity to go and make something happen,” he said. “It is a chance I cannot afford to slip away. This is a fight I have to win – not just for my career but for my life.

“Yes, of course, Ricky has much more experience in world title fights than me. Yes, he is more experienced, I 
cannot pretend he isn’t. No problem. I’ve come here to Scotland with 42 fights behind me. I’ve fought at European level against very good 

“So this is not a problem, it’s a challenge. And I could not have more motivation than fighting for a world title.”

The Coatbridge man admits that his attempts to gain weight in order to reach the 140lb limit have, thus far, proved to be fruitless and that will hand a significant advantage to the visiting fighter, who expects to be well over a stone heavier than the local hero.

“Of course, I will be bigger than Ricky Burns,” he said. “It is normal that I will put on extra bulk after the weigh-in because I normally weigh five or six kilos above the super-lightweight limit.

“And yes, I expect to be able to stop Ricky because I will have more power than him. He’s a great fighter but I will be more powerful.

“I think Ricky, because he’s coming from a lighter weight class, has his own problems. But all the sacrifices I have made to make this weight, they will pay off on fight night because I will be the stronger man.”

Saturday’s crowd is likely to be in excess of 8,000 but 
Di Rocco claims that he will not be intimidated.

“You have to remember that I have a lot of international experience as an amateur,” 
he said.

“I’m used to fighting in front of big crowds away from home, with all of the fans against me.

“So let’s not worry about that. I’m sure the Glasgow crowd will be loud and passionate. But it’s not the Colosseum.

“I’ve put in a lot of hard work to prepare for this fight. I had a really long training camp, a lot of extremely hard work.

“That is because, all along, I had the ambition not just to come to Glasgow to fight but to come to Glasgow and win.

“I have waited a long time for this belt because some big fights fell through. But, as European Champion, your goal is always the world title and I hoped to box for one within two years.

“It has now been three years since I became European champion so I am ready for this. I feel like I’ve been waiting for it all my life.”