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Watt at odds with bookmakers after Burns' chances written off

IF the odds-layers are to be believed, Ricky Burns' reign as WBO lightweight champion will end tonight at the hands of the American Terence Crawford.

Ricky Burns at yesterday's weigh-in at the St Enoch Centre. Picture: Colin Templeton
Ricky Burns at yesterday's weigh-in at the St Enoch Centre. Picture: Colin Templeton

The 26-year-old mandatory challenger from Nebraska is as short as 4/6 to preserve his unbeaten record in his 23rd bout while Burns, 30, is as long as 4/1 to record his ninth world championship success in his 40th fight.

However, Jim Watt, the former world lightweight champion and respected pundit, took the bookmakers to task on the eve of the 10,000 sell-out bout at the SECC in Glasgow. Burns, 30, weighed in at 9st 8lbs 4oz yesterday, marginally lighter than his opponent.

"If Crawford is as good as his camp says then Ricky has serious problems," Watt said. "But in making Crawford favourite I think they are being kind to him. He is unproven while Ricky had proved himself at world level.

"Crawford has the natural confidence of an unbeaten fighter. What he doesn't have is Ricky's experience. Ricky had to get up off the floor to win a world title and he has been in some really tough fights whereas Crawford has had it all his own way so far.

"He hasn't been tested with his back to the wall and until he is we are not going to really know how good he is. Yes, Crawford is talented and we know from his record that he has ability, but 12 rounds is a long time and Ricky is one of the best 12-round fighters because of his condition.

"Who knows? Maybe Crawford will prove to be as good as they say and Ricky will be in for a hell of a night, but when you look at their respective records he hasn't done anything Burns hasn't done and done better.

"But the fight has all the hallmarks of a tough contest, especially with Ricky coming off the back of two pretty unconvincing performances and a broken jaw. Ricky has a lot on his plate coming straight back in a mandatory defence and it's a big ask, which probably nudges things more towards Crawford because of these issues.

"But if the two of them produce their best form that should be good enough for Ricky to be able to hold onto his title.

"We haven't seen that form in his last two fights, but it's difficult to say if this is Ricky's most difficult contest. You have to remember the nightmares Jose Gonzalez gave him and things can't get any tougher than being completely outclassed for the first six rounds in a world title fight."

Burns, from Coatbridge, is in fact just 12 rounds away from becoming jointly the most successful Scottish fighter of all time, should he equal the former WBO featherweight champion Scott Harrison's tally of nine world title wins.

But Burns' trainer, Billy Nelson, who was in Harrison's corner for each of his 11 championship bouts, claims that Burns is already a class apart.

He said: "Ricky surpassed Scott a few fights ago in terms of the quality of the opposition he has faced, I would suggest.

"I am talking about Michael Katsidis and Paulus Moses, former world champions, Kevin Mitchell and Rocky Martinez, who was the super-featherweight champion and No.1 with Ring Magazine when he fought Ricky.

"That's not being disrespectful to Scott, who was a great fighter, but for me, there is only one person above Ricky and that is Ken Buchanan.

"But if Ricky wins another one, two or three fights, why couldn't he surpass Ken? He has already won more world title fights than him.

"I know it was a different era and there was only one belt when Ken was champion but what Ricky has achieved, considering he lost twice at British title level, is fantastic.

"He is undefeated for seven years and no other Scottish fighter has achieved that, so you have to take that into consideration as well."

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