Tonight Scotlands Ricky Burns puts his WBO super-featherweight title on the line for the second time when he takes on Ghana’s Joeseph Laryea at the Braehead Arena in Glasgow.

Burns 27, Britain’s fourth world champion currently on the books, faces a wildcard opponent in Laryea who got this very surprise shot at the title after defeating another Scottish boxer in Paul Appleby, who himself was being lined up for an all Scottish world title fight with Burns. The unorthodox Mohicaned Ghanaian put an end to such a night by outpointing Appleby over twelve rounds winning the WBO Inter-Continental super featherweight title. in December last year.

The world champion will be in with a challenger who has nothing to lose and if the Appleby victory is anything to go by, could prove to be an awkward puzzle to solve for Burns. The Coatbridge boxer is possibly a win away from a world title unification fight against South Africa’s IBF belt holder Mzonke Fana, which is being talked about for some time in the summer and Burns isn’t expected to let that opportunity slip him by, although he will not be taking Laryea lightly. 

“Joseph Laryea is not to be underestimated. There is talk of unification fights for me but that is all in the future and I have to put that to the back of my mind. I can’t afford to have any slip ups in this fight.” said Burns.
“I still have a lot to do in the sport and people seem to forget I’m fighting a decent boxer here.
“Maybe in the past other fighters have been too relaxed and paid the price.
“It is not going to happen to me because I’m fully aware of the consequences. If it all goes wrong I could be back to the drawing board.
“That is why I have sparred with guys as tall as Layrea. I don’t need to be told what could happen if my attention switches off.
“Laryea is quite capable of beating me if I have an off-night so I have to be totally focused. To be fair I’ve worked as hard as ever in the build-up to the fight.”

Burns as blossomed as a boxer and on the night of his life, boxed the fight of his life when he won the crown from Roberto Martinez in one of the upsets of 2010 and he is right to not over look the African, who if allowed to could cause Burns nightmares.
Both fighters weighed in yesterday with Burns coming to the scales at 129.8lbs with Laryea at 128.4lbs. The Ghanaian was at his throat-slitting gestures again as the pair came together for the face-off.

Burns though was totally unfazed by Laryea’s attempts to provoke him and came away from the pre fight meeting more confident. Seeing a chink in Laryea, Burns believing his challenger to be nervous going into the biggest fight of his life, which will be before a massive partisan crowd. 

The Scot had also been preparing for a taller fighter, believing Laryea would have a significant height advantage over him. But, in the flesh yesterday, Burns had no trouble making eye contact with the Ghanaian

“I actually thought he was a lot taller than he is,” revealed Burns.

“We’ve been bringing in sparring partners who are six feet tall to prepare. But this is the first time I’ve met Joseph face to face. It was good to get a look at him and size him up. I think I’ve got his card marked.”

 “Joseph did look a bit nervous when we were standing face to face,” added Burns. “The gestures don’t worry me at all. I’ve seen it all before. Once we get in the ring, none of that is going to matter.
“Maybe he’s trying to intimidate me a wee bit, but that’s not going to happen. I’ve got the utmost respect for all my opponents, including Joseph. I’m the first to shake their hand when we meet.
“Martinez did it too, putting his hand across his throat. I just gave him a wee smile, as if to say, ‘We’ll see what happens in the ring’.”

Look for Burns to use his superior boxing skills to keep a confused Laryea punching air for the first few rounds before starting to figure his challenger out and landing more frequent. Burns is not a knockout artist with just 7 Ko’s in 32 fights, he is more likely to box your ears off than give you a thick one. While Laryea has 11 Ko’s from 18 fights, maybe suggesting he has a dig? but other than his Appleby win, all his fights were in his home land against lowlier foes. 
Laryea has been stopped once before by countryman Yakubu Amidu in 4 rounds and although Burns hasn’t got that one punch finish he could well have hit Laryea enough to cause a late stoppage or the challengers corner may have to pull out a brave but beaten man. A clear points win for Burns though should be the final verdict with a dream unification fight to follow in the summer.

By Chris Maylett

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