7th November 2011

In February 2005 British lightweight champion Graham Earl took on a 9 fight super-featherweight novice Ricky Burns in a non title fight. In what was suppose to be a routine tick-over fight for the Luton man while he waited for his next Lonsdale belt defence against Commonwealth champion Kevin Bennett.
But that night the 21 year old Burns totally outboxed Earl, who at the time was unbeaten in 22 fights and a weight above the young thin looking Scotsman, who looked more like rapper Eminem at the time than a Prizefighter. Burns flicked out his jab and used great movement and maturity to defeat Earl winning 78 points to 75 on referee Ritchie Davies scorecard over 8 rounds at the Wembley Conference Centre.
After baffling not only Earl but also the experts with this shock win, Burns dismissed talk of facing Earl again
in his next fight for the British Lightweight title, and instead said he wanted to continue
to build his career at his natural weight of Super Feather. “I’m ready
to take on anyone in the top ten Super Featherweight, Alex Arthur, Craig
Docherty, Michael Gomez.” he said at the time.
The following year and after 3 more wins, Burns was rewarded for his win over Earl and was offered a British, European and Commonwealth title shot in his natural super-featherweight division against countryman and reigning champion Alex Arthur in a big Scottish derby contest at the Meadowbank Sports Centre, Edinburgh.
The Shy unassuming boxer, born in the tough Bellshill district of Glasgow took on Arthur in February 2006. Burns that night in just his 12th fight took on his country’s best fighter at the time and one of British boxing’s hot prospects. He pushed Arthur the full twelve round championship distance and just narrowly lost on points.
But Burns (left) boxed out of his skin that night and although it was Arthur being pushed as the new boxing light in Scottish boxing, it was the bleach blond haired, tattooed Burns who oozed star quality that night prompting the champion to heap praise on him; “Ricky Burns was in superb shape and he was up for the fight” said Arthur, “He’s a brilliant boxer with a great future and he could be a world champion one day.” Burns himself refused to be disappointed with the loss saying; “I don’t count that as a loss. I’m just 22 and it was great experience for me”
After two comeback wins Burns then got the chance of another British title, in February 2007, he faced champion Carl Johanneson at the Leeds town hall.
It turned out to be another experience for Burns professional CV, another lesson and experience that he was to learn from. He lost a 12 round
decision to the experienced champion and Burns tasted the canvas three times in that fight against the Yorkshireman.
That defeat to Johanneson in-front of a baying partisan home crowd, woke something up in Burns, an almost coming of age as a fighter, he decided to leave his old trainer Rab Bannan at the Barn Boxing Club, where he had been for over 14 years, the Johanneson
defeat prompted a need for a change of direction. On telling his former
mentor the news Burns said; “It was a nightmare having to tell him. It
was really sad because I’ve been with him for 14 years. All my boxing
life really. It was really hard but we left on good terms and we shook
hands and I’m sure our paths will cross again.” Burns moved to the
Dalmarnock gym in Glasgow and coach Billy Nelson.
 
Since that loss on a cold February night in Leeds against Johanneson, Burns has remained unbeaten ever since. Going on to have 18 fights in four years and winning the Commonwealth and WBO super-featherweight title against highly touted Puerto Rican Roman Martinez and last night (5th December 2011) at the Wembley indoor Arena in London beat the formidable Michael Katsidis to win the WBO lightweight title and become a two weight world champion in his 35th fight.
Going into the fight with Katsidis (right), Burns was the underdog and written off, many believing that the step up to lightweight and the media styled ‘Brit Basher’ Katsidis, would dish out to him what he had previously done on his other UK visits, when he stopped Graham Earl and Kevin Mitchell.
But Burns was unfazed by Katsidis’ reputation and was confident going in that he had what it took to beat him and become a two weight world title holder. Ironically the last champion Burns beat at lightweight Graham Earl was in the Katsidis corner, having struck up a close friendship since their own epic fight in 2007 and during the introductions held onto the Gladiator helmet that Katsidis had wore on his ring walk.
But this was Burns night in London for the Scotsman and he entered the ring with a confidence and winning look in his eye. The posture of a experienced seasoned professional fighter, who’s hard work, dedication to the game, finely honed skills and never say die attitude all came together to produce a near perfect display against Katsidis. 
Burns 28, turned in a career best performance coming out of the traps fast meeting
Katsidis in the middle of the ring behind a stiff quick jab, he took
the fight to the Australian power house beating his opponent to the
punch and bossing the exchanges.
 
All three judges awarded the Scottish
boxer the unanimous verdict with scores of 117-112 and 117-111 twice.
Katsidis 31, is never a fighter to hide and fights for every minute of every round, stalking Burns he pressed forward looking to trap his man and engage the taller Burns into a slug fest, which would be territory he knows well and thrives in. But Burns was never ready to oblige Katsidis and when he did find himself with his back to the ropes and the Brit Basher bearing down on him, he teed off on Katsidis before slipping out of the way leaving the Australian punching the air.
As the fight wore on Burns began to land plenty of hurtfully timed uppercuts from behind his damaging text book jab and as Katsidis’ face began to mark up, it looked like he had been in one hard fight too many and there was no substance to his punches, they didn’t have that bang or snap, where as Burns’ did and they echoed into the ring microphones to the oohs and ah’s of the crowd.

The large Scottish contingent who had travelled across the boarder to the capital roared their man on and he looked strong, fast and powerful at lightweight and looked like the more dangerous puncher of the two. When Katsidis did open up, Burns was calm enough to bring the hands up, ride the shots and take most of them on the forearms behind a water tight defence.

Burns also banged in some hefty shots to Katsidis mid section that had him sucking up the oxygen in gulps and Burns always looked like he had other gears if he needed them. In the end Katsidis had no answer to Burns’ solid and slick show and at times looked surprised if not shocked by how good Burns was. In typical fashion Katsidis never gave in or took a backwards step but in the end there was only one winner.
Burns’ counter punching and accuracy of shots were what took the eye, his defensive work and peek a boo covering up under pressure was impressive and his movement jab and uppercut was the key to his victory.

Ricky Burns v Michael Katsidis Short Notes from Ringside:
Round 1. Burns starts quickly meets Katsidis centre ring, flicking out his jab landing clean with crisp shots as Katsidis came forward menacingly. But Burns is cute, accurate with his punches and nullified Katsidis’ work tucking up well. Good opening round for Burns.

Round 2. Burns jabs, jabs, jabs, dropping in good chopping rights, smothering Katsidis inside. Katsidis circles his man looking for the opening, but Burns is keeping him off balance. Nice movement from Burns. Katsidis looking to work the body, Burns catching him coming in.

Round 3. Burns looking strong at lightweight, Katsidis keeps coming on. Burns composed not panicking when the Australian attacks. Good right uppercuts from Burns, combinations, nice left knocks Katsidis head back. Burns covering up good.

Round 4. Katsidis probing pushing on but his punches are more tapping than sinking in. Burns looking through his high held gloves at Katsidis and missing his punches with his back to the ropes. Burns looks comfortable in control finishes the round well. Katsidis lands a shot after the bell.

Round 5. Katsidis trys to trap Burns on the ropes again, unloads and throws three lead rights, but again Burns tucks up well. Burns centre ring and even pushing Katsidis back, switching well to the body. But Katsidis is working hard, he unloads a with a flurry of punches to body and head at the end of the session and this time they do get through Burns’ guard and sends the spray flying from the Scotsman’s head.

Round 6. Burns centre ring again back working behind his jab, as Katsidis stands off. Good right from Katsidis gets through again. But Burns is still the boss and bangs in some nice body shots to halt Katsidis coming in. Katsidis looking a bit tired here, defiantly not himself! 

Round 7. Katsidis game as ever coming in taking the fight to Burn, its getting tough and grueling. Burns on the ropes again Katsidis attacking well. But Burns back on his toes. Nice left hook from Burns is the best shot of the round. But Katsidis work rate is relentless.
Round 8. Pressure again from the all action Katsidis, getting through good left hook from Katsidis. Tape coming loose on Burns glove again. Katsidis looks again to get the upper hand but Burns finishes the round strong and lands a crunching body shot to Katsidis ribs.

Round 9. Burns back behind his jab, dropping the right cross in with effect. Burns making space between him and his opponent. Katsidis reaching and falling short with his punches. Burns jumps in with another top body shot, left hook digs in. Katsidis marauds forward digs away at Burns’ body, what a hard fight this is. Burns defensive work is class.
Round 10. Katsidis is a real Gladiator and the hat he wears fits his character very well. There is still no let up in the action. Both getting through now, Burns still disciplined behind his jab, working body well, but Katsidis wont give him a second to breath. Good round for the Australian.

Round 11. Katsidis bringing over the right hook in the clinch and trying to rough up Burns. There fighting on the ropes, but Burns still tight in defence. Good use of the left hook too from Burns. Katsidis bobbing and weaving trying to find his way in from angles. Burns though is the accurate and a right cross lead rocks the head back of Katsidis, Burns uppercut is still getting through. You get the impression something harder and blunter than a punch is the only thing that would plant Katsidis out for the count, he is one hard man. Burns though is looking superb.

Round 12. Good combination of punches to start the round from Burns, jab, right, left hook, right uppercut. Katsidis though is going for it, walking through Burns shots. Katsidis is rabbit punching Burns in the clinch and is warned. Tape coming loose again on Burns glove. Nice right crosses from Burns ends the round and Burns is the new WBO lightweight champion.
By Chris Maylett