• Steve Bunce

Burns rides his luck, Floyd could be left eating his words

Steve Bunce September 10, 2013
Raymundo Beltran was unlucky to lose after impressing against Ricky Burns © Getty Images

Nobody is denying that Ricky Burns was lucky to keep his WBO lightweight title last weekend. The drawn verdict against Raymundo Beltran was a travesty. However, he was unlucky to get caught with the left hook in the second round that not only broke his jaw, but also caused him to dramatically change his fight plan. Well, that is what people in the Ricky Burns business claim.

On the podcast this week, Burns' trainer Billy Nelson defends Ricky's performance in Glasgow - as you would expect him to and as he is entitled to do so - by explaining he was in so much pain that strategy was thrown out of the window. There's no arguing with that; you can clearly see the agony on his face. That is the reason why he's had surgery and now has titanium plates in his jaw.

However, I don't think it was a particularly good performance up until the point of the injury, but I take on board and fully accept what Billy has said about how that incident altered the fight. Billy is not a liar.

Buncey's Boxing Podcast

  • In this week's podcast, Steve and Barry chat to Billy Nelson after Ricky Burns' draw with Raymundo Beltran and discusses whether he feels Burns will box again after his broken jaw.
  • Ricky Hatton reveals all about going toe-to-toe with Floyd Mayweather Jr in Las Vegas.
  • And finally, Scott Quigg tells us about the night he won the title.
  • Click here to watch Buncey's Boxing Podcast

I asked Billy whether he thought about pulling Ricky out of the fight and he instantly replied: "No." In the last few rounds, when the fight seemed lost, when Ricky had been knocked down heavily in the eighth and it was so obvious he had an injury, my gut feeling was that's the time to pull him out.

Billy disagrees and, as I said to him on the podcast, he's closer to Ricky. He's in the ring and can see in it his eyes - so he went ahead with it. If you're a neutral fan it made for a brilliant night, but it did not go down as a good night for Ricky or British boxing.

You've got to feel for Raymundo Beltran too, who I thought was excellent. He was superb; he showed his skill and how good a craftsman he is. At times, he made Ricky look raw and that's what can happen when you face a really experienced Mexican fighter.

Over the weekend, Ricky's promoter Eddie Hearn spent time at his hospital bedside and issued some dramatic comments; he claimed that Burns may never fight again and the injury could be career ending. However, on the podcast, Billy reveals he will fight again and there is bold talk of a rematch.

In six weeks, Burns will have the titanium plates removed. Once the plates are removed, he'll get the thumbs up. The doctors have done the operation on a routine basis and there's no suggestion under any circumstances that Ricky won't fight again - according to Billy Nelson. Hundreds of boxers suffer broken jaws, have surgery and continue their careers.

From the other camp, Beltran's manager Steven Feder insisted that his fighter was "robbed". In my opinion "robbed" is a strange old word as it implies there's something wrong. But there is no skulduggery, no one is crooked, no one has cheated and no one has had a backhander.

On the night, there were three judges. One of them got it right and two of them, in my opinion, got it wrong. It happens - there are thousands of fights each year, all the way around the world, where decisions go to the wrong man. Various things can shape this; maybe you find yourself watching only one fighter, maybe the crowd influence you. Or, maybe you are a rubbish judge.

I'm not saying that's the case here but one thing that never influences a judge's decision is possible corruption. It's a simple thing - there are hundreds of fights that take place in different venues around the world on a Saturday night, which means there are hundreds of judges working as well. If they were receiving money, if they were receving illegal gifts then someone would say something. It's human nature to blab.

The pressure is on Floyd Mayweather Jr ahead of his blockbuster bout with Saul Alvarez © Getty Images

If a judge had a weakness away from the ring then he would be vulnerable to a bribe. That's a rule of life applicable in any business. So, let's imagine that Judge A, who is a secret gambler, is given five thousand dollars to vote a certain way and does so.

All good so far. However, his debts mount, he becomes more erratic and his tongue starts to get loose. He will blab about the bribe as sure as eggs are eggs. If promoters were bribing judges and referees there would be a thousand stories and proof. It simply doesn't happen that way, sorry.

The FBI have spent millions trying to prove boxing is corrupt - and the best they could do recently was arrest some wannabe gangster in Los Angeles who talked about how he could fix fights; preliminary fights at a venue which wasn't even televised! It's a spoof. I wrote about the way boxing really works in my 2010 novel, The Fixer.

Elsewhere this week we have the little matter of Floyd Mayweather Jr taking on Saul Alvarez in the biggest fight of the year and one that will become the second-highest grossing fight of all time. It's big business when little Floyd fights.

Mayweather Jr's unbeaten record is in jeopardy against 'Canelo' Alvarez if he continues to slip - which Floyd has admitted to - and if Alvarez has a game plan that he can stick to. However, it's still a really hard fight for Alvarez to win but it will be a great scrap.

There's an awful lot of pressure on Mayweather Jr - he does everything outside the ring and then he does the fighting. Is it going to be that night where Floyd gets his sums wrong? It's possible.

Floyd mentioned this week that boxing has become "too watered down". I have to say, I was a little disappointed with the comments and I'm not sure what he means?

On Saturday, Ricky Burns fought ten rounds with a broken jaw; that's hardly "watered down", is it? And on that same bill, up in Scotland, two unbeaten cruiserweights smashed each other to bits for ten rounds, just for the right to gatecrash the European top ten.

I'm not quite sure what Mayweather Jr meant when he made those comments and some people might argue that Floyd's defensive style, as brilliant as it is, has changed the shape of the boxing business. A cynic might even say that Mayweather has "watered down" the sport with his openly safety-first approach.

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Steve Bunce has been ringside in Las Vegas over 50 times, he has been at five Olympics and has been writing about boxing for over 25 years for a variety of national newspapers in Britain, including four which folded! It is possible that his face and voice have appeared on over 60 channels worldwide in a variety of languages - his first novel The Fixer was published in 2010 to no acclaim; amazingly it has been shortlisted for Sports Book of the Year.