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Monday, 21 January, 2019

Back warrior Burns to show why he is a true champion

Rickster can unify world titles

Ricky Burns lands a big right on Kiryl Relikh
1 of 1

WBA & IBF super-lightweight titles
Sky Sports 2, from 7.30pm

It is often said that the mark of a true champion is how they react in the face of adversity, and Scotland's Ricky Burns can prove he is in that illustrious bracket by unifying the WBA and IBF super-lightweight world titles with a win over Namibian Julius Indongo in Glasgow.

Three years ago it seemed the popular Coatbridge fighter had come to the end of the road after a draw and two defeats in the space of nine painful months. 

He was on top of the world in September 2013, but Raymundo Beltran broke Rickster's jaw in the second round of a WBO title defence in 2013 and a worrying slide in form followed.

Despite being knocked down in the eighth Burns got away with a draw on the scorecards against Beltran. But he had to have a titanium plate inserted by surgeons and subsequently lost his next two fights. 

Many, including his promoter Eddie Hearn, thought the end was nigh, but bizarrely another subsequent defeat relaunched his career. 

Burns threw caution to the wind and accepted an offer to fight in the US for the first time. Taking on undefeated American Omar Figueroa in Texas as a huge underdog in 2015 Burns produced a gutsy, battling display and although the judges awarded the fight to Figueroa, Burns earned the respect and admiration of all who watched him.

He has won four in a row since, taking the WBA title with a fourth-round victory over Michele Di Rocco last summer and retaining it with a points Kiryl Relikh in October. 

Now he gets the chance to snatch the belt from IBF champion Indongo, and he should be backed to win the fight on the scorecards. 

Indongo won his title with a remarkable 40-second knockout of Russian Eduard Troyanovsky, but that was something of a freak result and Indongo, who has a modest 52 per cent KO ratio, is unlikely to knock over experienced Burns so easily. 

That brief cameo is the only time Indongo has ever fought outside Namibia, and the passionate Glaswegian crowd can inspire Burns to a famous victory.

Despite suffering five defeats Burns has never been stopped and both men have good form over the 12-round championship distance, so take Burns to win a close but unanimous decision on the scorecards. 

Two British title fights prop up the main event. Scotty Cardle is a big favourite to retain his lightweight crown against Robbie Barrett while Charlie Edwards, who is rebuilding after failing in a bid for the world flyweight title, is expected to win the vacant super-fly strap against Iain Butcher.

R Burns on points
2pts 10-11 Coral, Paddy Power

Indongo won his title with a remarkable 40-second knockout of Russian Eduard Troyanovsky
E.W. Terms
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