Ricky Burns targets ring return after Nelson split

RICKY Burns, the former WBO lightweight champion from Coatbridge, is preparing to return to the ring on Friday, 27 June, almost certainly in a world title eliminator.

Ricky Burns sets his sights on returning in a world title eliminator in June. Picture: TSPL

Burns, 30, who has split with long-time trainer Billy Nelson, relinquished his crown to American Terence Crawford six weeks ago when he was heavily out-pointed at Glasgow’s SECC in his tenth world title contest.

But Burns, who also previously held the WBO super-featherweight title before moving up a weight division in 2011, may not have long to wait in his quest to become a three-time world champion.

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The boxer’s promoter, Eddie Hearn has pencilled in Braehead Arena, Renfrewshire for Burns’ 41st bout and the London fight boss is also believed to be close to agreeing a deal with the WBC’s fourth ranked contender, Javier Prieto. The 26-year-old Mexican has a 24/7 record, with 18 wins inside the distance, and is the current holder of the WBC Silver lightweight title.

Hearn is also confident that a win for Burns, who turns 31 on Sunday, will secure a crack at WBC champion Omar Figueroa around September time. The 24-year-old Texan is undefeated in 23 starts while Burns’ loss to fellow American Crawford was his third career defeat.

It has emerged Burns split with Nelson after expressing a desire to freshen-up his training programme. But Nelson insists the surprise break-up has not left a bitter after-taste, and believes Burns is capable of winning a third world title. He said: “Ricky has made a decision which he thinks will benefit his career, and while I may feel he has not made the right choice as I feel I am as good a coach as any in the UK, I can accept that. I get on really well with Ricky and have hardly had a cross word with him in all the time we’ve been together. Whoever Ricky goes to he will give 100 per cent in the gym and hopefully win a world title again, he’s definitely still got it in him.”

Burns is undecided who will succeed Nelson, but Manchester-based Joe Gallagher is one of several top trainers who have expressed an interest in taking over, ensuring that the Scot will be spoiled for choice.

Bitter cruiserweight rivals Stephen Simmons, from Edinburgh, and Barcelona-born Wadi Comacho will also feature on the Burns undercard. The pair angrily clashed at a press conference in January when 29-year-old undefeated WBC International Silver champion Simmons accused Camacho of disrespecting his fiancée and family via Twitter. They very nearly came to blows and Simmons vowed to send his rival “home in a coma” after also offering to fight Comacho in a Glasgow car park. But Simmons was later forced to pull-out of the SECC show after picking up a rib injury while sparring.

Meanwhile, Commonwealth light-welterweight champion Willie Limond has turned down the chance to sign a fresh contract with Tommy Gilmour at the age of 35, but the Glasgow manager/promoter stressed: “There is no bad feeling whatsoever.”