Ricky Burns, the down to earth man of the people from Coatbridge, just outside Glasgow, has just become the most accomplished Scottish boxer in history after he took the third world title of his career last night.
A commanding performance from Burns ended with an eighth round knockout victory over former European champion Michele di Rocco to win the vacant WBA light welterweight title.
Burns first made himself known to the British public in 2006 when he brought almost 1000 fans from Greater Glasgow to Edinburgh for his challenge against the British, Commonwealth and European champion Alex Arthur.
His strong personal fan base has been exhibited time and again. From a crowd of 2000 at the Kelvin Hall for his first world title victory against WBO super featherweight champion Rocky Martinez in 2010, ticket demand for Burns’ subsequent fights has led fight organisers to book out larger arenas. Last night’s fight at the Glasgow Hydro attracted over 8000 spectators.
The fight itself was a dominating display from Burns. Di Rocco had been unbeaten since 2007 with only 1 defeat in 42 contests. Burns did not show complacency before or during the fight, hammering his opponent relentlessly in the first and third rounds.
The fight came to an end in the eighth round when the Italian brawler collapsed at the referee’s feet after a punishing barrage of shots. Despite beating the 10 count Di Rocco stumbled back to the corner and was deemed unfit to continue by referee Terry O’Conner.
The victory makes Burns the first Scottish boxer to win world titles at three weight divisions, and the first British fighter to do so since Duke MacKenzie in 1992.
He is also the first Scottish boxer since Walter McGowan (pictured above) in 1966 to have been recognised as world champion by several of the major world governing bodies during his career-in Burns’ case the WBO and WBA.
Overall it is hard to deny that Burns’ achievements have laid down a marker by which future champions will be judged, in a sport where Scotland has a strong and proud history.
by Jack Mallon