'Only right' to fight Beltran again - Burns
With his broken jaw on the mend, WBO lightweight champion Ricky Burns is hoping to make a return to the ring in early 2014 but revealed he will not be entirely convinced by his rehabilitation until he takes some punishment in sparring.
Burns suffered the injury during his last outing against Raymundo Beltran in September, when the Mexican caught him hard in the second round. The fight, in front of a 7,000-strong crowd in Glasgow, controversially ended a draw despite Beltran knocking Burns down in the eighth round, meaning the Scot somewhat fortuitously held on to his title.
Following the fight, Burns was taken to hospital for surgery and had a metal plate inserted into his jaw. However, the 30-year-old confirmed he is working his way back to full fitness - but will only have peace of mind when returning to full sparring.
"My jaw is on the mend," Burns told BBC Scotland. "It's healing the way it should. I've been doing light training and hopefully I'll be back boxing in five to six weeks.
"Once I start sparring and the jaw has taken a couple of skelps, I'll be more confident with it. I don't know how I managed to get through it [the fight with Beltran]. The pain was unbelievable.
"The surgeon said it was stupidity. It's just the way I am. If I'm in a fight, I'll fight to the end. I think people knew that wasn't the real me in that ring. I was in survival mode from the second round.
"I wouldn't say it crossed my mind that I would never fight again but I was thinking 'is the same thing going to reoccur?'"
While he stated a rematch with Beltran would be his preferred option, there are other routes for Burns to take when he makes his return to action.
Terence Crawford is currently WBO mandatory challenger while a unification bout with IBF champion Miguel Vazquez would be another option. Burns was due to fight Vazquez in London last March, before the Mexican pulled out with a viral infection.
"I think it's only right to fight Raymundo [Beltran] again," Burns said. "I think it's the fight the fans want to see."
Promoter Eddie Hearn agreed that Beltran, whose manager said he was "robbed" in Glasgow, should get the opportunity to fight Burns again.
"I think he deserves his shot and, more importantly, Ricky wants to put the record straight," Hearn said. "The key now is the rehabilitation of Ricky Burns. We can't rush things. We really won't know until he is back in sparring, taking blows on that jaw again."
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