News September 2013

Burns belted but Beltran belt-less - RINGSIDE REPORT


@shaun_brown reports from Glasgow's SECC

Raymundo Beltran should be going back to America as the new WBO lightweight champion of the world. The morning after the night before has fans, writers and the boxing world still shaking their heads after the events in Glasgow’s SECC last night.

Beltran, deemed by many as nothing more than a useful sparring partner did everything he could, including sending the champion sprawling to the floor with a lunging left hook in the eighth round to rip the title away from Scotland but the judges at ringside deemed his efforts close but no cigar with scores of 115-112, 113-115, 114-114 to ensure the bout ended as a draw and Burns retain his title and six year unbeaten record with a broken jaw his unwanted evidence of 12 hard fought rounds.

After a largely forgettable undercard, former Pop Idol winner Michelle McManus and Michael Buffer (an odd couple if ever there was one) took their places in the ring to carry out their respective duties. One in a tight, white dress to sing ‘Flower of Scotland’, the other in the traditional ring announcer black tux to bellow the immortal cry of ‘let’s get ready to rumble’. A partisan crowd were ready to roar their champion home and carry on ‘Rickster’s’ good news after the birth of his first child.

From the opening bell the champion looked to get on the front foot and signalled his intentions with two overhand rights which warmed up an already fervent crowd. Burns wearing his now traditional pink ring attire kept a high guard throughout the contest and looked to target Beltran’s body but the challenger found a knack early on of being able to cut the ring off and get Burns backed up on to the ropes. Something which became a familiar pattern despite the crowd’s pleas for their hero to move off or tie up the determined Beltran.

As we now know, Burns suffered a potentially career threatening jaw injury in round two and to his credit continued to eat a mix of punches on the back foot, where he normally boxes quite comfortably, or on the ropes where Beltran did a lot of his best work.
Despite a broken jaw, Burns was more than willing to trade with Beltran and even though some of his shots were mistimed and occasionally off-balance the Coatbridge ‘Braveheart’ never backed down from what Beltran was frequently dishing out.

At the halfway stage the contest looked even and in the sixth the champion was very much in the fight as he looked to force his shots through hoping that Beltran would take a backward step but the 32 year old was undeterred as his game of the hunter vs. the hunted carried on regardless.

Arguably Burns’ best round came in the seventh. The simple tactic of throwing one-two’s were followed up by right hands and rather than being bullied on the ropes, Burns was beginning to tie his man up and negate a threat that had been there from the very beginning.

If the seventh stanza was encouragement for the home support the eighth was their worst case scenario. Beltran looked to throw the left hook at any opportunity, the warning signs were there and Burns right hand – which he should’ve used to protect himself, wasn’t - as a long ranging missile from Beltran detonated on Burn’s already damaged jaw and sent him down for a ten count. This was the Scot’s first trip to the canvas since his epic win over Roman Martinez, a night that saw the WBO super featherweight title change hands and one that will live long in the memories of British boxing fans. As he did against Martinez, Burns climbed back up and once again went looking for a tear-up.
The ninth and tenth witnessed the familiar pattern of Burns on the ropes re-emerge and showed signs of struggling with Beltran’s work-rate who looked like 15 rounds wouldn’t have been too much of an ask for him.

During the final six minutes, the feeling ringside that Burns was needing a knockout to win the fight and retain his title without controversy. The champion’s heart and determination was and is never in question as his battle with Beltran and that left hook reached its climax. A conclusion that saw Burns move off the ropes beautifully at one point, much to the frustrations of a crowd who had called for that earlier.

As the final bell ended one question remained. Did the challenger do enough to take the title away from its champion? The answer was an unequivocal yes. This writer scored it 115-112 for Beltran and when the scores were announced a mix of relief from the fans and raised eyebrows from the media were noticeable. Robbery is a word used far too easily in boxing but what more did Beltran have to do to prove he won the title?

Thoughts now turn to the immediate future. Beltran 28-6-1, rightly, will feel aggrieved and will be travelling home a champion without his prize. For Burns 36-2-1, the performance against Gonzalez was marked off as a bad day at the office and spirit that broke the heart of Jose Gonzalez. Last night only he knows how he managed to fight ten rounds with a broken jaw, it is the stuff of legend but for Burns to go on and cement such a lofty status there may have to be a new plan. A move to light welterweight and pastures new perhaps but before all that we must find out if one of Scotland’s finest, not greatest, will be able to carry on after such a damaging injury that will lead to a lengthy absence from the ring.

Stephen Simmons livened up a timid undercard with a career best performance against the unknown and unbeaten Sauerland promoted David Graf. Despite his right eye being marked up and his left one cut, the Edinburgh native put everything into his first time completing ten rounds by using his underrated jab that forced the German back and allowed Simmons at times to dictate the fight. But Graf, who at times looked out on his feet, found a second and third wind and traded shots with Simmons with both men looking to maintain the zero on their record. Simmons, now 9-0, prevailed to claim the WBC International Silver Cruiserweight belt with a unanimous decision and will now look towards a British title sooner than later. Perhaps the only disappointment for Simmons on the night was that when he had Graf eating clean combinations on the ropes he wasn’t able to put his man away.

Callum Smith shone once again to go to 7-0 with a one round stoppage win over Kirill Psonko. The 6ft 3ins super middleweight, who goes on to a much sterner test against Patrick Mendy in a couple of weeks will have learned little from last night’s performance but the way his shots are put together are catching everyone’s eyes and with every win, greater things are expected with the next performance.
Despite suffering a hand injury, Scotty Cardle went to 12-0 in an eight round win over the game and pesky Gary Fox who didn’t give the Glasgow born lightweight a moment to relax.

Paul Appleby had a successful comeback by defeating Lee Connelly in a hard fought six round contest at light welterweight. Appleby 19-4 never does things the easy way and proved that old habits do indeed die hard.

There were also wins for local fighters Jon Slowey who won the WBC International Silver Featherweight title over ten rounds against Spain’s Angel Lorente as well as four round points decision victories for David Brophy and Michael Roberts. The night’s proceedings were kicked off by recent Prizefighter winner Chris Jenkins who gained a 60-55 points decision over Laurent Ferra.

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