RICKY BURNS, the World Boxing Organisation lightweight champion from Coatbridge, will not make a third defence of his title in London this weekend after all, having withdrawn from the bill at the ExCel Arena.
The promoter Frank Warren refused last night to confirm the sensational development, having claimed in an earlier statement that 29-year-old Burns would definitely contest the main fight on the bill.
He added that every effort was being made to find a replacement for Jose Ocampo, the 23-year-old Filipino who withdrew on Monday, having himself been brought in to replace the Englishman Liam Walsh, injured in a car crash.
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When it became increasingly clear that a replacement would not be found in time, Burns was told that he would most likely fight a 10-round international contest instead. That seems to have been the final straw for the boxer after he had psyched himself up for his eighth world title contest during six weeks of hard training.
Incredibly, Warren still refused to confirm the latest developments last night. Instead, a spokesman for the promoter revealed that a statement will be issued today.
Herald Sport can confirm that Burns will return to the ring on January 26 when he will defend his crown, almost certainly in Glasgow.
Burns will take a week off to recover from his disappointment before resuming training over the festive period to ensure he is in peak condition for his delayed ring return in seven week time.
Alex Morrison, Burns' manager, said: "Ricky has the mental toughness to deal with most situations, no matter how unsettling it is for him, and he will take this in his stride. Once he digests a situation and thinks it through for a few minutes, he ends up adopting a philosophical approach.
"I feel sorry for him all the same after all the hard training he has put in over the past couple of months."