THE uncertainty surrounding Ricky Burns' fight plans took a dramatic turn yesterday when the Coatbridge boxer's manager, Alex Morrison, claimed the 29-year-old has parted company with his long-time promoter Frank Warren.
It is the latest twist in the sorry tale of Burns' efforts to defend his World Boxing Organisation lightweight crown. Burns, through no fault of his own, has twice been frustrated in the past four months, first when his title defence against the Filipino Jose Ocampo was called off in December with only four days' notice.
However, the events of the past few days have been much more worrying for the boxer and his manager, who were stunned to learn that Burns' unification bout with the Mexican Miguel Vazquez had also run into trouble.
Warren's announcement that he had been forced to reschedule the fight – originally due on March 16 – as a consequence of Vazquez being struck down with a virus set the alarm bells ringing. Burns was informed that he would be fighting on April 20 instead, five weeks later than planned, after Warren produced a medical certificate testifying that Vazquez was unfit to train.
Vazquez's doctor, the California-based Roman Cruz Olais, stated in his report that his patient was suffering from a severe viral infection caused by food poisoning after eating seafood. He said the boxer was suffering from a high temperature, nausea and vomiting, as well as palpitations, and recommended he recover at home for 10 days, resting and hydrating.
Vazquez apologised for the problems caused by the postponement but added: "The infection I suffered in my stomach was very strong."
Morrison, though, has called into question the validity of Vazquez's condition after claiming that footage on YouTube shows the 26-year-old sparring when he was supposed to be laid up in bed and that appears to be the straw that finally broke the camel's back.
Morrison said yesterday: "I regret it has come to this because I have known Frank for nearly 40 years, but it has to be for Ricky's sake. I felt we had to do something to stop Ricky stagnating. Two fights have been called off after he has trained hard for them and it was not even certain that the bout with Vazquez would have gone ahead on April 20.
"In fact, I now doubt very much that the fight was ever going to happen. Vazquez was supposed to be sick but five days later I'm told he was seen sparring on YouTube in the States.
"There were also a lot of issues I wanted settled before Ricky fought again and these have not been dealt with satisfactorily. Now we are looking at going down another route. I will make a statement next week, but hopefully his next defence will be in Glasgow where he should have been fighting all along.
"I am quite sorry this has happened, but I have to safeguard Ricky's future and he feels himself that he now wants to move in another direction."