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Boxing: Victory for Burns over Moses could open door to America

IT may have been billed as "The Homecoming" but Ricky Burns' first defence of the World Boxing Organisation lightweight title, against Paulus Moses at the Braehead Arena tonight, could more accurately be described as the gateway.

Both the challenger, Paulus Moses, and Ricky Burns, the champion, were well inside  the 135lb limit. Picture: PA
Both the challenger, Paulus Moses, and Ricky Burns, the champion, were well inside the 135lb limit. Picture: PA

In Moses, a former World Boxing Association lightweight champion whose promoter is Don King, Burns finds himself pitted against an opponent who carries the type of gravitas in the USA that would help the Scot register some sort of presence in the States should the Coatbridge fighter beat the Namibian.

Thus, should Burns beat Moses, there would be a significant ripple effect across the pond.

Further, although Burns has been pencilled in to meet Londoner Kevin Mitchell in the summer, if he successfully overcomes Moses, the champion's trainer, Billy Nelson, is hoping to take his charge stateside for a four week training stint that will also double up as valuable promotional work for the Scot.

Burns looked calm and relaxed yesterday after tipping the scales at 9st 8lb 8oz, in stark contrast to the drained and taught figure he had been in the final defences of his super-featherweight title.

The champion said: "I feel really good at the weight, strong and ready to go to work. It is always a relief to get the weigh-in out of the way.

"I am confident I am in the shape to produce my best performance yet."

With Moses scaling in at 9st 7lb 2oz, both men were safely inside the 135lb lightweight limit.

Indeed, the only drama, at a traditionally fraught moment in the build-up to any big fight, came when the first set of electronic scales proved faulty just after the challenger had stripped down to his underwear.

However, officials quickly found a second set and matters were soon resolved. While Burns undoubtedly has made the right move to remove himself from the debilitating effects of making 130lb and remaining dominant at super-featherweight, in the eyes of many Americans he also ducked his final mandatory challenger, Adrien Broner.

The Cincinatti fighter was subsequently hailed as new WBO champion after Burns' abdication and move up up a division. He has since dis-patched both his challengers in a slick and brutal fashion that has caused many seasoned observers to compare him to a young Floyd Mayweather.

Broner's mopping-up exercise at 130lb, however, will be temporary, big at the weight as he is, thus making it highly likely he will follow Burns up to lightweight and add further enticement for a trip to the US should Moses be vanquished.

Jim Watt, the former World Boxing Council lightweight champion who has done expert analysis on both of Broner's first two defences, is in no doubt that it is an encounter Burns should be in no hurry to take.

He said: "There is no doubt that Burns had to make the move up to lightweight and no question he was avoiding Broner. The only problem for Burns is that there are no name fights for Broner at super-featherweight and I would imagine he will make the move up sometime soon.

"Broner has all the qualities, based on his first two title defences, to go a very long way in the fight game but Burns has plenty of other options should he beat Moses. There is no question that if Burns does beat Moses, and I expect him to do so, that it will register in the US and that is exactly what he needs right now.

"For me, this is a good defence for him."

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