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The long and short of it is that Burns must prevail

DEJAN ZLATICANIN, the Montenegrin bidding to inflict a fourth career defeat on the former world champion Ricky Burns at Braehead Arena this evening, is surprisingly short for a lightweight.

LOWDOWN: Ricky Burns assesses Montenegrin rival Dejan Zlaticanin ahead of tonight's lightweight encounter at Braehead Arena. Picture: Gary Hutchison/SNS
LOWDOWN: Ricky Burns assesses Montenegrin rival Dejan Zlaticanin ahead of tonight's lightweight encounter at Braehead Arena. Picture: Gary Hutchison/SNS

What the undefeated 30-year-old lacks in inches, though, he more than makes up for in ambition, judging by his bold declaration that he will deliver a knockout blow to Burns' hopes of a successful comeback in the wake of his World Boxing Organisation title defeat by Terence Crawford.

"I am a very good boxer and a strong puncher and I will knock him out," vowed Zlaticanin. "I have been waiting for this opportunity for a very long time and I intend making the most of it because this is a once-in-a-lifetime chance. I will fight close in, not go round in circles, and I will not be affected by the Scottish fans. There are only two of us in the ring."

Burns conceded that his opponent has an impressive record of 13 knockouts, suggesting that Zlaticanin is "a bit of a banger", although he added: "While there are a few names on his record that I recognise, you can't really go on that too much because there are also a lot we don't know.

"Anyway, I prefer to look at myself rather than study him too much and the first thing I noticed was how small he is. I will give him respect but I will stick to things I have been working on and take each round as it comes. I am confident I am the one who will get the result in the end.

"Boxing is my life: I was gutted to lose my world title and I want it back. I think the night I broke my jaw against Raymundo Beltran also proved conclusively the lengths I am prepared to go to in an effort to win.

"When I look back on the Beltran fight it showed what I am capable of in terms of pushing myself to the outer limits. Any time it gets really hard and I am tired I know I can force myself to find that little bit more."

As two-weight world champion, with a total of 36 wins from 40 fights and a 3½-year reign as WBO champion at super-featherweight and lightweight, Burns has already achieved much of which to be proud. Yet he insists that he will not be content until he makes history by becoming the first Scot to achieve the distinction of becoming a three-time world champion.

To have any realistic hope of realising his dream he must impress against Zlaticanin, if he is to convince the WBO that he is worthy of being installed as the mandatory challenger to the champion, Omar Figueroa.

The promoter, Eddie Hearn, has pieced together an appealing undercard featuring the veterans Willie Limond and Curtis Woodhouse, respective holders of the Commonwealth and British light-welterweight titles, and cruiserweights Stephen Simmons and Wadi Camacho.

While Glaswegian Limond and Woodhouse, the former £1m-rated footballer, have behaved in a dignified manner in the build-up to their contest, the same cannot be said of Simmons and Camacho.

Almost predictably, the warring rivals threatened to come to blows yesterday at the weigh-in conducted in front of hundreds of bemused Braehead shoppers.

Tempers overheated when Simmons, from Edinburgh and the holder of the World Boxing Council International Silver cruiserweight title, mouthed off at Camacho before shoving his head in his opponent's face, appearing as if he was about to butt the London-based Spaniard.

Camacho recovered quickly from the shock of Simmons' attack and responded by pushing his rival away, forcing officials, including the boxers' handlers and stewards of the British Boxing Board of Control, to intervene.

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