UK Boxing: By Gerry Murray
The Changes Froch Must Make to Get the ‘W’
By: Gerry Murray - May 24, 2013
Carl Froch v Mikkel Kessler, one of 2013's most eagerly anticipated fights and without doubt the biggest for a British boxer so far this year, is now less than 48 hours away. Having already met in a 2010 toe to toe classic in Denmark, which Kessler won via a contested decision, fans of the sport are anticipating another edge of your seat night.
The result is obviously important for the sport. Kessler may hold the victory over Froch, but inactivity, injury and a comparatively light resume since that night has led many to claim 'The Cobra' as the better man. Saturday night should hopefully end those arguments about who's the division's rightful number 2 and set-up a rematch with the peerless Andre Ward.
For British boxing though, the implications could be far more significant. Not since David Haye's tame loss to Wladimir Klitschko have we seen such a significant amount of build up to a UK event.
Matchroom Sport, the hometown fighter's promoters, have managed to convince Sky that the event is pay-per-view worthy for the first time since 'toe-gate' and to their credit they've thrown their considerable weight behind selling it to a wider audience. That it will directly follow the UEFA Champions League Final in their schedule, one of Europe's marquee sporting events, gives a huge platform to showcase a great fight to a new set of fans. The pay TV giant have invested heavily in Froch against a back drop of wider reductions in spend on boxing, so the stakes for future support are high.
Sky and Matchroom have done their job to this point. A full arena, widespread media coverage and a platform on which to shine for Britain's current number 1. Come 11.15pm Saturday, it's over to Carl to take it home.
So what of ‘The Cobra’? What does he need to do on Saturday to ensure he doesn't repeat the mistakes of Herning and come away with his third pro loss? The bookmakers may have him as favourite for the clash, but the general consensus is this will be another close encounter. Minor details and subtle changes from their first meeting will be crucial, so here's my take on what Froch must change to get the W.
1. Start fast.
A lot has been made of the effect the ash cloud had on Froch's preparations for their previous fight. It may well have taken an edge off the final week of his camp and led to a slow start, but he absolutely can't afford to repeat the mistake this time around. Kessler was ahead on the cards through 6 and ultimately this left his tiring opponent too much to do. With a partisan crowd behind him, Carl has to take inspiration from his demolition of Lucien Bute and jump on his man early. Mikkel has looked cool, calm and collected in the run-up to the bout and it’s important that Carl gets him out of his rhythm early.
2. Step in with the jab
The one aspect of the first contest which had me screaming at the TV more than any other was Froch's jab. While Kessler was jabbing to hurt, the Nottingham man seemed content to paw away. In the early stages it was, in my opinion, this which cost him the closer rounds. 'The Cobra' is the rangier boxer, has a longer reach than his Danish foe and possesses a granite chin. These three combined make it a crime for him not to step in with a more hurtful jab. Lazy lead shots against a solid counter puncher like Kessler are a recipe for disaster.
3. Don't look for the single shot
It's understandable that as the first fight descended into a war of attrition, both men would look to load up on the big shots, but once again this could play in to Kessler's hands. As already stated, Kessler is an astute counter puncher who carries real power (He holds a 74% KO ratio) and single heavy shots will afford him the opportunity to fire back. Froch isn't particularly tough to tag, so his best hopes lie in keeping the other man occupied with flurries of activity.
4. Get the Dane on the back foot
A stronger jab and more combinations will go a long way to nullifying Kessler's strengths, as they should help keep him moving backwards. A lot of talk in the build-up has focused on Kessler being the 'better boxer' of the pair, but to my mind this ignores one slight flaw. When under pressure, he moves back in straight lines and can become untidy. Getting him to do so will be no mean feat, but if Froch can impose himself like he did against Bute and Abraham, he'll be making life a whole lot easier on Saturday night. The added benefit of getting Kessler on the back foot will be the removal of one of his key weapon, the powerful body shots which put fellow Brit Brian Magee away.
5. Use the uppercut
'The Cobra' carries his hands low, a fact which will not change this weekend. Relying on his ability to take a shot may cause purists to shake their heads in disbelief, but for Saturday it could come in handy. Kessler will look to come forward with straight one-two's and then work the hooks to the body and when he does, Froch must use his under-rated uppercut. By carrying his hands so low, he’ll not only be inviting Kessler to engage, but also giving himself the opportunity to get the uppercut off quickly. The Brit may not be a one punch knock-out artist, but an accumulation of solid uppercuts like he landed in the first fight could help break his opponent down. It may be some time ago, but it was exactly this shot which took out Magee in their British title meeting in 2006 and something similar could do the trick once again.
Can Froch make the changes required to get the win he desires and give British boxing a shot in the arm? That remains to be seen this weekend, but for my money he’ll have a little bit too much for Kessler and I can see him inflicting the first stoppage on the Dane’s resume in the later rounds. The margins are small, but the fact Alan Green dropped the Viking Warrior potentially points towards a slight deterioration, while Froch appears to have improved in recent outings. In this instance though, I’ll be keeping my money in my pocket, because regardless of the result, this is a fight boxing and sporting fans in general can enjoy. With a heightened spot light on the sport for the next few days, let’s hope it lives up to expectations.
Ryan Burnett: Good Things Come To Those Who Wait
By: Gerry Murray - May 21, 2013
This coming Friday, 21 year old bantamweight Ryan Burnett will have his first professional outing when he takes on Hungary’s Laszlo Namesapati Jr. (1-3-0) in a scheduled four round bout. The fight which takes place on Steve Wood’s VIP Promotions show at Liverpool’s Olympia does not appear to be particularly unusual on paper. After all, debutant vs. a little known Eastern European challenger is a fairly common sight on the UK circuit. However, for Belfast’s Burnett, it marks something more important than just the first opportunity to box without the head guard and vest. For him simply earning the right to step into the ring represents a major victory in his fledgling career.
When he announced he’d be turning over in early 2012, big things were quite rightly expected of Burnett from his professional career. In 2010, aged 18, he took home the 48kg gold at the Singapore Youth Olympics, the only Irish participant to come home with a medal from those games. The expectation was further fuelled when he signed a deal to be promoted and trained by boxing legend Ricky Hatton, adding to a stable already stacked full of talent in and around his weight. A quick debut at flyweight or super-flyweight was being planned until the British Boxing Board of Control medical examination put everything on hold.
Burnett is straight to the point about the reason for the delay. “I had a brain problem. They said the blood wasn’t flowing around my brain as it should have been, so the British Boxing Board, they’re so cautious of any little thing, they said I couldn’t get my license.”
Having relocated from Northern Ireland to Manchester to train with Hatton, a move which Burnett openly admits is “really hard” due to being away from friends and family, it would have been very easy at that point to pack his bags and return home to Belfast. However, Burnett then displayed the determination that should hold him in good stead in the ring. “I remember lying in bed and getting a phone call and the doctor telling me that I was never going to box again. Everything was running through my head, but I just had to stay positive. I knew what I wanted and that’s to box, so I had no other choice bar going to the gym and proving to everyone that I wanted to be a boxer and I was willing to push through anything.”
Unsurprisingly that dedication has impressed Ricky Hatton, who has heaped praise on his fighter for his positive attitude and consistent presence in the gym, despite the doubts over whether he’d ever be able to put all those hours of training to good use. When many others would have sulked and gone home, Burnett carried on working on the basics required to switch from world beating amateur to successful professional.
With his medical issues now behind him (The board granted a license earlier this year following a year of work from Burnett, his father and Hatton Promotions to prove he was safe to box) Ryan is convinced the enforced layoff will stand him in good stead. “In the year and half I’ve been out of the game I’ve learnt so much about the pro game and how things work. I’ve adapted to it a lot more than what I would have done if I’d turned professional and just gone straight into the ring fighting. I’ve matured.”
Unusually for a young man who alongside his father was meticulous in his choice of Hatton as trainer, a process during which “Rick ticked every box”, Burnett knows little about his first opponent. Nonetheless, this doesn’t appear to faze him in any way. “I don’t really mind what he does. As long as he turns up on the night, that’s good enough for me.”
So it appears the essential self-confidence is another encouraging trait that can be added to the undoubted talent and determination the young Ulsterman has already displayed. On Friday we’ll start to find out how far he can go along the path which, potential fulfilled, he believes can take him all the way to being a world champion. Given what he’s already shown just by getting to this stage, expect Burnett to very quickly start replacing doctors with judges as those giving him the right decisions.
Matchroom Sport Wins Saunders v Ryder Purse Bids
By: Gerry Murray - May 8, 2013
Matchroom Sport today won the purse bids for the eagerly anticipated middleweight match-up between current British Champion Billy Joe Saunders (17(10)-0) and Islington’s John Ryder (14(8)-0). The British Boxing Board of Control expects the fight to take place by the end of July.
Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Sport and Ryder’s promoter announced the news on Twitter this afternoon, saying the date and venue of the proposed clash between the two unbeaten prospects will be announced shortly. The purse bids were called by the board in April following John Ryder’s 2012 TKO victory over Irishman Eamon O’Kane.
Anticipation of the victorious promoter in the purse bid has been as great as the potential winner of the fight, as it marked yet another potential flashpoint between Britain’s two largest promotional outfits. Beijing Olympian Saunders is currently promoted by Frank Warren whose boxers fight on his own Boxnation station, while Ryder is handled by Matchroom’s Eddie Hearn who hold an exclusive TV deal with Sky Sports. Animosity between the two companies are no secret and have escalated in recent months following the defection of WBO lightweight champion Ricky Burns from Frank Warren’s stable to Matchroom Sport. A move which has led to an on-going legal dispute. The purse bids were therefore seen as a test of strength given both faced the possibility of seeing one of the star attractions fighting on a rival network in their biggest career match-up to date.
Stylistically the contest is extremely intriguing, with Saunders’ superior boxing skills pitted against Ryder’s perceived advantage in strength and power. Despite being the away fighter on a Matchroom card, it’s likely that Saunders, who has so far mixed at a higher level would start as a marginal betting favourite, but at the formative stages of their professional careers the fight represents as close to a 50/50 clash as you’re likely to see.
Given the promotional politics involved, the prospect of Saunders relinquishing the title to follow a different route have been speculated upon. However, Saunders himself has given Frank Warren problems in that regard by being extremely vocal in re-iterating his desire to win a Londsdale belt outright.
Saunders said "I want to be first to that from my community to do that. I am in boxing to win a world title, but right now that Lonsdale belt is the most important thing in my career. No Romany has ever won a Lonsdale belt and that is what I want to do."
Achieving this goal requires three successful British title defences and Saunders currently holds one against Matty Hall earlier this year to his name. Given how proud Saunders is of his roots and the popularity of the boxing within the traveller community, this desire should not be overlooked and therefore presents a tricky situation for Warren to negotiate.
For the sake of British boxing, we have to hope politics are set aside for now and both men get the stage they deserve to showcase their talents in one of the most anticipated British title fights of recent years.
Amir Khan: A Lack of Skills That Pays The Bills
By: Gerry Murray - April 29, 2013
The build up to Saturday’s light welterweight fight between Amir Khan and Julio Diaz was dominated by one question. How much had Khan learnt from Virgil Hunter in recent months to help him overcome his well known defensive flaws? Flaws which have cost him dearly against Breidis Prescott, Danny Garcia and Lamont Peterson as well as walk the tightrope to victory against Argentinean banger Marcus Maidana. Judging by what we saw in Sheffield during his roller-coaster unanimous decision win, the answer to that question is clearly ‘not enough’.
However after the surprisingly competitive match-up, fight fans should be asking themselves a different question this Sunday. How much do we want Amir Khan to learn? It’s too much fun watching him as he is.
Make no mistake about it, Julio Diaz was a handpicked opponent against whom Khan was expected to not only win, but win convincingly. Diaz may be a 2 time world champion, but his best days are around 5 years behind him and found below light-welterweight. His previous successes may have given the promotion something to hang their hat on when selling the fight, but the expectation was for a one-sided procession towards another world title shot in December. The plan was evidently clear when with one breath ‘Team Khan’ were talking of not looking past the veteran Mexican, while with the next discussing plans of matching their man against the winner of Golden Boy’s light welterweight tournament between Garcia, Judah, Matthysse and Peterson. Khan v Diaz should not have been an exciting fight, but once again the Bolton man’s weaknesses made sure those in attendance went home getting full value for money.
Khan’s performance on Saturday was his career in a microcosm. An encouraging start, flashes of blurring brilliance, but ending with your heart in your mouth every time his opponent let his hands go. The first 9 minutes went exactly according to plan for the Brit, with Khan darting in and out unloading combinations that may have failed to hurt Diaz, but left the judges in no doubt who was winning the rounds. However, in the 4th things got tricky all of a sudden and it was once again susceptibility to the left hook that caused the problems. Two in a row got Amir’s feet in a tangle and eventually sent him to the canvas and we were back into the all too familiar situation of Khan, hands raised to convince the referee he was in a fit state to continue. It was edge of your seat time all the way to the final bell.
Khan managed to run, hold and box his way in equal measure to the victory, but the performance from rounds 4 through to 12 will have done nothing to stop the criticism of him as glass jawed. As always with the Bolton man, the positives of picking himself up will be overlooked as he’s once again written off as fundamentally flawed as an elite-level fighter. But it’s for exactly that reason why he’ll continue to get the big paydays and draw the crowds for a little while yet.
Khan’s weaknesses have been evident since Willie Limond put him on his backside in their Commonwealth lightweight title fight and now we’re 31 fights in and several levels up, it’s unlikely they’re going to suddenly disappear. Even if he has enlisted Virgil Hunter to teach him some of the skills which have made Andre Ward a top pound for pound fighter.
Ward may possess all the defensive tricks Khan would love to have at his disposal, but when it comes to pulling in the average sports fan you’d want Khan selling the sport over the Oakland man every day. He has the potential to look unbeatable for spells and at the next minute look like any club fighter could put him to sleep and that’s what people pay to see.
So while everyone else is getting caught up in whether he’s overhyped, glass jawed or the next Matthysse KO victim in waiting, I’m just going to enjoy him for what he is. A skilled fighter that brings wider interest to the sport and rarely makes for dull viewing. We’ve already got Mayweather, Rigondeaux and Ward if we want to watch technical brilliance. Sometimes I just want to watch a competitive fight where anything could happen and in that respect, I’m happy for Amir Khan to stay exactly as he is.
Macklin, Barker and Murray: Business to take care of at home?
By: Gerry Murray - April 11, 2013
Gennady Golovkin, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Sergio Martinez. Given these fighters make up the top three of Billy C’s middleweight rankings, it would be harsh to criticise the choice of likely opponents for Britain’s top 3 middleweights. Add to this the strong possibility that Matt Macklin, Darren Barker and Martin Murray would have to take on their respective tasks on foreign soil when historically British boxers have enjoyed limited success in doing so at the top level and you’d think everyone would be singing the praises of each man. However, while happy to commend their bravery while other boxing stars take the easier road, this particular fan is going to be harsh. For me, all three fights just don’t sit well. Yet.
Take any British boxing fan aged around 30 and I’ll guarantee I can pick the fights which kick-started their love affair with the sport. Eubank, Benn, Collins and Watson were household names fighting on terrestrial TV from the late 80’s to early 90’s and between the quartet, 9 memorable fights took place. Only Steve Collins and Michael Watson failed to meet during their careers and it’s hard to believe this wouldn’t have happened had Watson not suffered horrible injuries during his second bout with Eubank. Like Macklin, Barker and Murray today, it’s fair to say that the great quartet of the 80’s and 90’s probably had more skilled fighters in their divisions. Hearns, Duran and Leonard still featured in the earlier days, while James Toney, Roy Jones Jr. and Bernard Hopkins led the way in the 90’s. A match-up with any of these champions would certainly have captured the public imagination on this side of the pond, but quite rightly, taking care of business at home was prioritised.
Barker, Murray and Macklin have never faced each other. The closest they’ve come is a cancelled 2010 British and European title fight between Barker and Macklin which was never rescheduled and this is exactly where my problem lies. World titles have diminished in value far enough as it is due to the proliferation of governing bodies. Crowning World Champions who can’t yet claim to be the best in their own country will go no way to restoring their credibility.
Are these three the only ones guilty of the crime? Of course not, but this example is particularly frustrating because of the intriguing ingredients which would make any potential match-up sell well. Barker the boxer, Macklin the fighter and Murray the grafter, all styles would gel to provide genuinely exciting fights. Barker from London, Macklin with his Irish roots and Murray from the North West would ensure a lively atmosphere wherever it was staged. Add to these the simmering war of words, with Macklin at the centre and you should have all the respective promoters’ interest. Countless great British boxers have failed to catch the public’s imagination, partly because they lacked a credible domestic rival to bounce off. This is not a problem any current British middleweight faces which makes their failure to capitalise on the situation all the more disheartening.
I’m a big fan of all three fighters and despite my reservations, I will cheer them on against the best the division has to offer. However, the usual pride of seeing a British boxer take on the big names will also come mixed with a sense of disappointment. The saying goes “fighting is 90% mental and 10% physical”, so when you take on the best, what better preparation than KNOWING you’re the best man to represent your country. At the moment all three talk up their respective credentials in that area well, but none have proven it where it matters. They’ve all gone abroad to challenge world champions before. Whether it be Sturm for Macklin and Murray or Martinez for Macklin and Barker, each time they’ve stepped up they’ve failed to take the belts home. Maybe it’s time to try a different path? A couple of wins over top ranked domestic rivals and the army of new fans that would generate is currency, one which may help secure all important home advantage when it comes to negotiating a title shot. It’s these small margins which can mean the difference between champion or challenger.
For my money, before you step up to the elite level, there’s always a benefit in ensuring you’ve taken care of business at home.
Wilder vs Harrison: Who’s the fraud?
By: Gerry Murray - March 26, 2013
Former Olympic Super-Heavyweight gold medallist Audley Harrison confirmed via his twitter account this afternoon that he has agreed to fight unbeaten American KO artist Deontay Wilder.
Following a weekend of speculation, Harrison tweeted:
“No secrets in boxing eh! I have AGREED to take the fight with 5 weeks’ notice. We’re close, hopefully we get there on all details.”
Providing the finer points of the contract can be agreed over the coming days, which they should easily manage, the bout is due to take place on the upcoming April 27th showdown between Amir Khan and Julio Diaz in Sheffield.
Wilder’s promoters Golden Boy are currently looking to establish themselves in the UK and CEO Richard Schaefer has already made it clear he’d happily bring over big name fighters to compliment UK talent on their shows. The addition of ‘The Bronze Bomber’ to the April card is therefore a welcome indication of things to come for British fans and a timely announcement following growing criticism over ticket prices and the quality of opposition chosen for Amir Khan’s homecoming.
So what of the choice of Harrison as the man to announce Wilder to the British public? A household name, but one with a history of falling short in his biggest professional fights and more than one KO loss on his record, it would seem like the perfect opponent. Much like his fellow Olympian who tops the bill, Harrison is heavily maligned in the UK... He’s equally well known as ‘A-Farce’, ‘Audinary’ or ‘Fraudley Embarrassing’ following a timid loss to David Haye and a 1 round blow at the hands of David Price in 2012. However, regardless of his ring achievements since Sydney 2000, he rarely fails to sell a fight to the wider sports fan.
Harrison is coming off his second Prize Fighter success in February of this year, where he looked leaner and sharper than he has for some time in beating Derric Rossy and Martin Rogan on the way to victory and it will be this recent success which Golden Boy will cling to in attempting to convince boxing fans that Harrison is a viable threat to their hope for the next great US heavyweight.
Despite his perfect record so far, Wilder is not without his critics either. To say the 2008 Olympic bronze medallist, has been matched easily is an under-statement. A record of 27 KO’s from 27 fights certainly suggests he can bang, but it also says he hasn’t had the necessary tests required for a developing fighter. It’s only when placed alongside fellow big man Dereck Chisora, who has fewer pro bouts, but has already fought David Haye, Tyson Fury, Robert Helenius and Vitali Klitschko that his record really gets shown up for what it is. It’s for this reason alone that a match-up against Harrison is interesting.
The old saying goes that “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”, so maybe I am crazy for thinking anything other than an early round demolition from Deontay Wilder is possible. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time we’ve heard Harrison talk of finally fulfilling his promise before massively disappointing in the ring. However, you can’t help but admire the man’s self-belief. Being the butt of a nation’s jokes and still managing to dust himself down to re-build after each failure requires some courage. It would have been all too easy for Harrison to have walked away many times already, but he hasn’t and it’s this determination that eventually makes you want him to finally get his success.
Wilder is probably too young, too strong and punches too hard for this to be Audley’s night, but make no mistake, A-Force is not in desperate need of a big payday. A lucrative TV contract after turning pro followed recently by the Price and Haye match-ups has left him financially comfortable and this suggests he’s seen vulnerability in Wilder that’s there for him to exploit. And with that horribly padded record and worryingly skinny legs for a heavyweight, big Audley is certainly not the only one!
George Groves in-line For Abraham v Stieglitz Winner
By: Gerry Murray - March 19, 2013
If rumours circulating today are to be believed, super middleweight contender George Groves (17-0, 13 KOs) is wasting little time since making the move from Frank Warren Promotions to Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Sport. Having already made quick work of Dario German Balmaceda just 10 days ago on the Darren Barker v Simone Rotolo undercard, it is rumoured that Groves will be out again on the Arthur Abraham v Robert Stieglitz bill this weekend.
The agreement for all parties concerned would appear to make perfect sense. Groves is currently ranked at number 2 by the WBO, only bettered by the two men who meet this weekend for the title. His appearance as their support would suggest he is being viewed as the natural opponent for the victor. For Abraham and Stieglitz the aim is also very clear. Groves’ promoter Eddie Hearn has already promised his man chief support for the planned Froch v Kessler rematch on May 25th in London and Stieglitz and Abraham would both clearly enjoy the opportunity to position themselves as the obvious opponent for the winner of that matchup by shining on the undercard.
What makes both potential clashes even more intriguing is the close nature of the fights. Of all the current super middleweight title holders, Groves’ manager Adam Both clearly sees Abraham or Stieglitz as the easiest route to a title. Groves was scheduled to meet Stieglitz in May last year before an injury to the Brit put pay to that showdown and while Abraham would undoubtedly be a tough test, the manor of Carl Froch’s 12 round decision win against the Armenian showed an obvious blueprint to winning that fight too. Similarly, Stieglitz and Abraham would hold no fear in facing the undefeated Hammersmith man. Both would view a victory over Groves as the most direct route to a payday against Froch or Kessler, two of the division’s biggest names and would no doubt be aware of his weaknesses, visible in his minor wobbles against domestic level opponents Paul Smith and Kenny Anderson. While Groves has excited fans in his fledgling career, it hasn’t been without it’s scary moments.
At this point, there has been no official confirmation of a fight from Groves or any of his team. However, the source of the rumour is particularly well placed. Veteran British boxing journalist Steve Bunce dropped the news on his weekly boxing podcast for ESPN and is particularly well placed to have the inside track. Bunce is the main anchorman for Boxnation, the UK subscription boxing channel who will screen the Abraham v Stieglitz show this coming weekend.
If confirmed, this news would also provide context to the ongoing promotional war between Frank Warren and Eddie Hearn which has been escalating in recent weeks. While Frank Warren has issued court proceedings against Ricky Burns following his move to Matchroom Sport, the departure of George Groves in the same direction only one week prior was comparatively amicable. Warren’s statement following the announcement read “'Mr Warren would like to wish George all the best with his career and looks forward to working again with him in the near future”. What wasn’t initially clear of course was how soon that may be. Frank Warren is the major shareholder in Boxnation, the station where Groves may find himself fighting once again this weekend.
Despite having such a dominant champion in Andre Ward, the super middleweight division is continuing to throw up regular, intriguing clashes and after a frantic couple of weeks, George Groves seems determined to place himself front and centre in 2013.
Ricky Burns' Problem!
By: Gerry Murray - March 12, 2013
After a weekend of rumours and speculation, Eddie Hearn today announced his latest big name signing to his burgeoning Matchroom stable... WBO lightweight champion Ricky Burns.
Following hot on the heals of George Groves' decision to make the very same move last Monday, the defection struck another major blow to Frank Warren's 'Rule Britania' show, now planned for April 20th at London's Wembley Arena. Burns had been scheduled to meet IBF title holder Miguel Vasquez in a unification fight.
The announcement has hardly come as a shock off the back of a very public fall out between Warren and Burns' long term manager Alex Morrison over the last week. Morrison made no secret of his and Burns' frustration, even calling in to question whether the scheduled unification fight with Vasquez, promoted by Warren, was ever likely to happen.
So what does this mean for Ricky Burns? Short term he has a court room battle on his hands. Frank Warren promotions immediately issued a statement saying "Ricky Burns is under binding promotional and management contracts. Following the announcement by Eddie Hearn that Ricky Burns has signed with him, W. Promotions Limited and Frank Warren are suing Burns for substantial damages.'
Longer term the deal is also potentially problematic. Burns was undoubtedly concerned by having another last minute cancellation. His December fight with first Liam Walsh and then late replacement Jose Ocampo fell through and combined with the Vasquez training camp have left him £12,000 out of pocket in sparring partner fees. However, Vasquez's team were happy to proceed with a rearranged date and it will be tough for Matchroom to find an opponent as strong for Burns first date under their guidance, planned for May 11th.
Vasquez was a tough, but winnable fight for Burns. One that gave him a shot at a second title and an all important bargaining chip in negotiating the biggest lightweight fight out there against Adrien 'The Problem' Broner. Realistically we can now expect a match up with Gavin Rees, another of Matchroom's lightweights and while this is by no means a bad fight, it's just not Broner.
Should Burns struggle against Rees, a very real possibility against an awkward opponent, his negotiating position is severely weakened in securing the high profile shot at HBO's new number one fighter. Broner, of course got rid of Rees inside 5 last month and it's unlikely Burns would be able to do the same with only 10 KO's in his career.
The other big pay day available in the near future would be a British super-fight against Amir Khan up at light welterweight, but once again Matchroom doesn't make that deal easy to make. Khan's team and Matchroom have met before for the 2011 meeting with Paul McCloskey and neither party had much good to say about the experience. Money talks, but that fight would not be without it's complications.
Matchroom Sport undoubtedly offer Burns some real benefits. Regular TV presence with Sky Sports and a home town show are not to be sniffed at, but after the dust settles on this latest drama, it will also come with problems. And maybe not the one Ricky Burns has been looking for.