RICKY BURNS yesterday welcomed the chance to follow in the footsteps of the legendary Ken Buchanan by unifying the world lightweight titles.
More than 40 years after Buchanan achieved the feat, Burns, the World Boxing Organisation champion, will contest a unification bout against the Mexican Miguel Vazquez, a 26-year-old veteran of 36 bouts and 33 wins.
Vasquez, the International Boxing Federation champion, is not noted as a puncher, as his record of 13 stoppages suggests, but he has never been stopped while his three defeats were sustained at the hands of two unbeaten champions, Saul Alvarez and Tim Bradley, the most recent of them nearly five years ago.
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Burns' promoter, Frank Warren, while delighted that he has delivered on his promise to secure a unification bout for Burns after his most recent planned defence, against Jose Ocampo fell through and the offer of the World Boxing Council champion, Adrien Broner, was rejected, sounded a note of caution yesterday.
"We have given Ricky what he wanted but Vazquez will be very difficult," said Warren. "This is another step up in class for Ricky and, if he wants to reach the next level, he cannot afford to slip up.
"It is a career-defining fight for him and the biggest he has been involved in bar none. Vazquez will give Ricky problems but, hopefully he will have the answers to them.
"I have the utmost confidence that Ricky has the style and ability to become a double world champion, and then, who knows, with two titles to his name that would make a fight with Broner in the summer even bigger."
Burns added: "When you turn pro, you dream about fighting for the world title but, once you've achieved that goal, you want a unification bout.
"But Vasquez is one of the top fighters in the division and he could prove even trickier than Broner. He is very good technically, disciplined, and has a good boxing brain, a bit like myself. He also has some impressive names on his record including Breidis Prescott, who stopped Amir Khan in the first round the previous year."