Ricky Burns ready for change ahead of comeback

GIVEN that it was an accident waiting to happen, those who allowed bitter ring rivals Stephen Simmons and Wadi Camacho to stand just inches apart at yesterday’s weigh-in at Braehead Shopping Centre in Renfrewshire for the benefit of photographers, were forced to reflect that their judgement was flawed.

Ricky Burns and Dejan Zlaticanin weigh in ahead of their clash. Picture: John Devlin
Ricky Burns and Dejan Zlaticanin weigh in ahead of their clash. Picture: John Devlin

It was almost inevitable that after months of well documented “trash talk” and threats of physical violence the pair would kick off in front of hundreds of bemused shoppers.

The more worldly wise who had anticipated the likelihood of a flare-up were not disappointed when the bad blood that exists between the pair threatened to spill more than 24 hours before the real thing at Braehead Arena this evening.

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Simmons, from Edinburgh, began by mouthing off at Camacho before pushing his head into his opponent’s face and appearing as if he would butt the London-based Spaniard.

Camacho recovered quickly from the shock of Simmons’ gesture and responded by pushing his rival away, at which point officials intervened.

The verbal exchanges continued for several minutes, though, as the majority of onlookers booed Camacho, whose attempt to win over the locals by wearing a kilt backfired.

As if it really matters, for the record, Simmons, who is undefeated, scaled 14st 3lb 10oz while Camacho was nearly two pounds lighter.

Although once again overshadowed to an extent by contestants on the undercard, ex-world champion Ricky Burns and Montenegrin Dejan Zlaticanin are the principal protagonists this evening. Burns, from Coatbridge, is hoping to make a successful comeback following his world lightweight title defeat by American Terence Crawford four months ago.

The carrot of a possible WBC title shot against champion Omar Figueroa has been dangled in front of the 31-year-old

ex-WBO champion. Zlaticanin, undefeated in 18 contests, 13 of which have ended by stoppage, is intent on inflicting a fourth career defeat on the Scot.

“I am a very good boxer and a strong puncher and I will knock him out,” declared Zlaticanin. “I have been waiting for this opportunity for a very long time and I intend making the most of it because this is a once in a lifetime chance.

“I will fight close in, not go round in circles, and I will not be affected by the Scottish fans. There are only two of us in the ring.”

Burns, who weighed in at 9st 8lb 12oz, with Zlaticanin, who is noticeably shorter in height, easily making 9st 7lb 14oz, conceded that his opponent has an impressive record, but he added: “While there are a few names on his record that I recognise, you can’t really go on that too much because there are also a lot we don’t know.

“Anyway, I prefer to look at myself rather than study him too much and the first thing I noticed was how small he is.

“I will give him respect but I will stick to things I have been working on and take each round as it comes.

“Boxing is my life and I was gutted to lose my world title and I want it back. I think the night I broke my jaw against Raymundo Beltran also proved conclusively the lengths I am prepared to go to in an effort to win.

“Any time it gets really hard and I am tired I know I can force myself to find that little bit extra.”