FORMER world champion Ricky Burns is back in demand despite suffering a third defeat in five fights when he was out-pointed by American Omar Figueroa at the State Farm Arena in Texas on Saturday evening.
Burns’ promoter, Eddie Hearn claimed yesterday that the 32-year-old ex-two-weight champion from Coatbridge impressed his audience to the extent that he has already received two offers of follow-up bouts in the States.
“I have just spoken to the team who promoted the fight and they absolutely loved Ricky and, when you perform well on network TV over there, it does a lot for your career,” said Hearn.
“I have already had offers of two more fights. But I told them to hang on until Ricky is back here and we reconvene next week and see where we are at.
“The preference for Ricky’s next fight is Scotland, but if we bring him back in Glasgow it has got to be in a big-money bout.
“But it is difficult to say with any certainty what will happen next as there is big money and big opportunities in America as well.”
Burns was not in any way disgraced by Figueroa. Indeed, he has emerged from his 43rd paid bout with great credit, having acquitted himself with distinction.
All three ringside judges sided with the American by identical margins, 116-110, suggesting that Figueroa won fairly comfortably. But Burns was penalised by referee, Laurence Cole to the extent that he had two points deducted which ultimately cost him dear.
The referee, who repeatedly attempted to create space between the fighters by holding their arms as they fought at close quarters, deemed Burns to have been holding excessively in the eighth and 11th rounds.
Even with that added disadvantage, Burns’ promoter insisted that the non-title contest had been very much closer than the scoring suggested.
Certainly, Figueroa tired noticeably in the closing stages of a brutal, physically demanding tear-up and Burns looked capable of ending his opponent’s undefeated streak.
“The scores were much too wide and the referee did Ricky no favours whatsoever,” said Hearn. “Generally, there was nothing in the fight and a lot of people thought Burns had won but for the deductions, so he has shown he can still mix it at the top level.
“But Figueroa was just too big for him and weight was the main factor, really. That was always going to be the danger in taking the fight in the first place.
“I dread to think what Figueroa weighed going into the ring. He was probably something like 160 pounds, whereas Ricky would have been around 142 or 143.
“So not only was he competing against one of the best fighters in the world, he was also fighting six or seven pounds too heavy, in my opinion.
“But I think he enjoyed the experience. Obviously it was a big pay-day for him, but I think he also liked being there and, in a strange sort of way, I feel it was the rebirth of Ricky Burns in defeat.
“He boxed well against a guy who was the WBC lightweight champion and a very good fighter and yet I felt it could have gone either way, so there is still plenty left in the tank.”
Burns, not surprisingly, disagreed with the referee’s assessment that he had deliberately tried to impede his opponent by holding.
“I thought he was holding as much as me and that’s why I had to tie him up,” he explained. “But I think it was his size that gave me problems more than anything. I don’t know what weight he was in the ring, but he was a lot bigger than me.
“The plan was to try to stick to boxing for the first half of the fight, but once the size really took over I had to stand and exchange more than I would have liked.
“I couldn’t get him off me. But I have no excuses, as I said the best man will win. But I always leave everything in the ring and that’s all I can do. I hope everyone who watched the fight enjoyed it.”
Figueroa added: “Fighting a fight like that, it takes a lot to go even four rounds, much less 12. With a fighter like that leaning on you and using his weight it’s tough and I am just glad I was in shape.”