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Burning brightly

Laryea won't derail Ricky's march towards a unification fight

Jim Watt Posted 11th March 2011 view comments

This is a big fight for Ricky Burns. Not necessarily because of anything Joseph Laryea will do, but because now he is a world champion, he is under pressure every time he fights.

It was a little strange to see his trainer Billy Nelson saying this week that if he gets and wins a unification fight it will make him Scotland's best boxer ever.

Burns: under pressure but still the same down-to-earth guy

Burns: under pressure but still the same down-to-earth guy

It is only an opinion and Billy is entitled to his, but what those sort of comments will do is just put more pressure on the lad. It might also alienate fans of Ken Buchanan, Scott Harrison and maybe even some out there who had a soft spot for myself, but the bottom line is those things didn't need saying.

As I say, there is already pressure on Burns now he has that WBO belt. He has found, like so many champions before him, that as soon as you win a world title, people's expectations change.

There is already pressure on Burns now he has that WBO belt. He has found, like so many champions before him, that as soon as you win a world title, people's expectations change. They will start asking why he's not fighting this guy and that, why he's not knocking everybody out and they just expect you to perform like a world champion in every fight.

Jim Watt
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They will start asking why he's not fighting this guy and that, why he's not knocking everybody out and they just expect you to perform like a world champion in every fight.

I know Ricky quite well and as I have said on these pages before, you could not meet a nicer, more down-to-earth lad. But I do know he is quite sensitive and he does worry about what people think - and his trainer's comments will not help.

I was at a social function with Ricky the other week and he told me he had been reading people criticising him on websites and forums and didn't like it. Well, like it nor not, that comes with being a world champion and my advice to him was simple - don't read them.

Ricky is winning people over and the last thing he needs is to worry about what these people on forums think - 90 per cent of them only have bad things to say about anything. All he can do is go out there and do the business, that is the best way to shut them up.

When he beat Roman Martinez to win the world title he got nothing but praise, then he didn't look that great against Andreas Evensen and all of a sudden, because he is the champion, people started having a go.

Hiding

That is just the way boxing is, I'm afraid. But what it does mean is that against someone like Laryea, he is pretty much on a hiding to nothing, because until he does get that unification fight, people will question him. Unless of course he wins this in style. That is what I want to see from Ricky on Saturday night.

It might help that we have seen Laryea before when he beat Paul Appleby with a performance that pretty much got him this shot. I do think that night Appleby showed his inexperience and lack of maturity and put in a terrible show of his own, but take nothing away from Laryea, he was decent enough and showed that he is the type of fighter that is going to give this absolutely everything.

We know he can go the 12 rounds no problem at all, we know he is awkward and we know he has a decent jab, but I don't see anything there that Burns cannot deal with comfortably.

The problem Laryea has is that although beating Appleby got him here, it has also taken away the element of surprise many world title challengers have in their favour. I don't think he has anything that will make Ricky Burns do things differently.

If you're talking about the jab and talking about fighting at long-range then I don't think there is anyone in the super-featherweight division that can beat Burns that way, I really don't.

Dreaming

Even against Appleby, Laryea was a big target and was not that difficult to hit. Burns has to take advantage of that because he is simply a better boxer than the Ghanaian in every department.

He might need to settle into the fight and work out his opponent, but with his own job and the sort of shots that he landed against Martinez, he really shouldn't have too many problems.

Also, the fact that he has taken a little break before this camp will help. The first defence of a world title is usually a hard one because you have spent all your life dreaming of something and chasing it and then all of a sudden when you get it, you're left a little flat. I think that is the best way to describe his first defence against Andreas Evensen.

It was pretty soon after winning the title too and sometimes things do happen very quickly and all at once and you just need to step back and let it all settle down. Now Ricky Burns has done that I expect him to be back to his best and I am looking for him to win this in style because I know he can and let's be honest, these are the sort of fighters he should be beating in style.

I think everything Burns does will be too much for Laryea and I wouldn't be surprised if the amount of shots he lands in the second half of the fight force a stoppage with the challenger on his stool. If it can't be that then a wide points decision will do.

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