Ricky Burns looks to become Scotlands newest boxing hero tonight when he challenges Puerto Rico’s Roman Martinez on home soil for the WBO super-featherweight title at Glasgow’s Kelvin Hall.
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It has been a few years since Scott Harrison and Alex Arthur, were the pride of Scottish boxing, following in the footsteps of other north of the boarder greats such has Benny Lynch, Walter McGowan, Jim Watt and Ken Buchanan. Tonight Burns now 27 years of age has the chance to follow in their footsteps.

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Burns Martinez weigh in for tonight’s fight
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I first recall taking note of Burns when he defeated Graham Earl in just his 10th outing as a pro, Earl at the time was unbeaten in 22 fights and was the reigning British lightweight champion.

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The fight though wasn’t sanctioned for Earl’s title, and despite the upset win from the novice Burns didn’t get Earl’s crown, he earned another title shot against fellow Scott Alex Arthur.

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The fight Against Arthur in February 2006, (in just Burns 14th fight) was a big night of Derby day Scottish boxing at the Meadowbank Sports Centre in Edinburgh, Arthur’s home City, for the British, European and Commonwealth super featherweight titles.

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The fight had come a little too soon in the career of Burns that night and Arthur took a unanimous decision against a tough determined and skillful challenger in Burns, who gave Arthur all the trouble he could handle, proving that it wasn’t the last we were going to hear from him.

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Two wins later after the Arthur loss, Burns was offered a fight against British super featherweight champion Carl Johanneson for his title, again Burns entered the champions back yard in Leeds and before a baying partisan home crowd, Burns put up another brave effort pushing Johanneson the distance in a terrific fight that saw the Leeds man hold onto his title via a unanimous decision.

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Burns soon re-grouped and was back in the ring taking the experience of his premature title fights and using the setbacks to his advantage he has remained undefeated in his last 13 fights, winning the Commonwealth super featherweight title against Ghanaian Osumanu Akaba in 2008 he has defended it three times.

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Tonight against unbeaten WBO super featherweight world champion Roman Martinez from Puerto Rico, Burns is up against it and will need all the know how he has learned the hard way and will be looking to show the boxing world he has gained the tools needed to compete at the highest level but bookmakers have written off home town advantage here, making the Scot a bulky 3/1 outsider.

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Already a nine year veteran, Martinez is the WBO Latino, WBO Intercontinental, WBO NABO and WBO world champion and will be remembered by British fight fans has the man who knocked out Nicky Cook in Manchester to win the world title in 2009. Cook was hurt badly that evening and the young Puerto Rican’s power astounded everyone. 

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Burns though strongly believes he can upset the odds claiming he will win the fight if he sticks to his gameplan possibly by a late stoppage. 

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“I’m prepared, this fight is all I’ve thought about for the last few weeks, from what it will be like when I walk out, to what it will be like when it’s just me and him in the ring.” Burns told Colin Paterson from his local paper Advertiser Sport www.acadvertiser.co.uk at his home in Coatbridge.

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“I’ve got a gameplan and as long as I stay focused for the 36 minutes I’m in that ring, I will be leaving with the world title.

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“I’m going to win. It will be a late stoppage or on points, but I’m going to win.”
Burns though has only fought once in 14 months since retaining his Commonwealth super-featherweight title against Northern Ireland’s Kevin O’Hara.

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His last outing came in May when he comfortably beat Youssef Al Hamidi at Upton Park in London but Burns says he feels sharp and is bursting to get back into the ring.

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“It is a big occasion,” he added. “Having a big home support in Glasgow puts a little bit of extra pressure on me, but it will be great to have all that backing.

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“People were wondering if I would burn myself out because of all the delays but before the 10-week training camp, we had a bit of time off to recharge the batteries.

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“Things have come together nicely. I have been doing plenty of sparring and enjoyed a variety of sparring. Now the countdown is on to the fight.”

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“People can expect fireworks come Saturday night,” he promised. “I’m expecting a tough fight but I’ve trained for a hard 12 rounds. Whatever happens, I’ll be ready for it.”

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Under new coach Billy Nelson, Burns has been working on his offensive skills to add to his already good defensive work, and says he is now as confident boxing of the front foot as he is the back.

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He’ll need all his defensive nous against Martinez, who showed against Cook just how dangerous he can be.

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Behind in that fight, Martinez had been out-boxed for the first three rounds, and hurt in the fourth.
But he found the punch to upset Cook, who folded dramatically in the fourth.

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Martinez – who like his opponent is 27 and probably at his peak – knows how to win on foreign soil, and will have happy memories of coming to the UK.

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Yet coming to Scotland will be a very different experience to that night in the MEN Arena in Manchester.

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The Kelvin Hall, in Glasgow with its history of big fights will be different again and the Scottish fans on fight night are renowned for getting behind there boxers with an high intensity that Martinez may not be prepared for and Glasgow’s Kelvin Hall will not be an easy place for an away fighter to be.

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Prediction:
I think I am probably letting heart rule head here and on paper Martinez wins this fight by late stoppage by wearing down Burns with body shots ending the Scots dream in the 10th round. But…. I believe nice kid Burns might just shock us all and pull off the win and become champion of the world.

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With the crowd roaring him onto victory I pick Burns to out point Martinez in a hum dinger of a fight with Burns winning most of the first rounds before Martinez comes on strong in the last third, but Burns just nicks it!
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On the undercard

John Simpson makes the third defence of his Commonwealth featherweight title against the challenge of hotly tipped scouser Stephen Smith. The fight also doubles as an eliminator for a guaranteed shot at Martin Lindsay’s British featherweight title.
6 X 3 Minute Rounds Light-Middleweight Contest
GARY O’SULLIVAN vs. TBA
4 X 3 Minute Rounds Welterweight Contest
LIAM SMITH vs. TERRY CARRUTHERS
8 X 3 Minute Rounds Lightweight Contest
ALEX ARTHUR vs. PETER McDONAGH
8 X 3 Minute Rounds Super-Featherweight Contest
PAUL APPLEBY vs. YORDAN VASILEV
4 X 3 Minute Rounds Super-Featherweight Contest
STEVEN ORMOND vs. JOHNNY GREAVES
THE COMMONWEALTH FEATHERWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
12 X 3 Minute Rounds at 9st (126lb)
JOHN SIMPSON vs. STEPHEN SMITH
4 X 3 Minute Rounds Light-Middleweight Contest
JOHN THAIN vs. PADDY POLOCK
THE WBO SUPER-FEATHERWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP OF THE WORLD
RICKY BURNS vs. ROMAN MARTINEZ
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The fights will be shown live on Sky Sports 1HD, Saturday from 9pm. In Sky’s new Saturday boxing slot, which has replaced Friday fight night.
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By Chris Maylett
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