Ricky Burns beats Michele di Rocco to win the WBA super-lightweight title
By James Dielhenn
Last Updated: 29/05/16 2:40pm
Ricky Burns has become a three-weight world champion after a dominant eighth-round stoppage against Michele di Rocco in Glasgow.
The Scot claimed the vacant WBA super-lightweight title to add to previous WBO super-featherweight and lightweight belts, becoming just the third Brit behind Bob Fitzsimmons and Duke McKenzie to achieve the feat.
Burns' hat-trick never looked in doubt as he boxed sensibly behind his jab, catching his outmatched opponent at will.
The Italian visitor opened too aggressively and walked into a stiff jab that buckled him backwards, drawing even more energy from the raucous crowd.
Di Rocco continued to stalk forwards but had trouble locating the elusive Burns with his shots, and ate a body shot in return at the end of the second round. Burns was effective with his simplicity and could scarcely miss his jab-cross combination.
At the end of the third, a straight right hand from Burns put his opponent on the canvas but came too close to the bell for the Scot to follow up. The result looked ominous but Burns remained patient and continued scoring with his straight right, allowing Di Rocco to swing and miss even more frequently.
Di Rocco was left holding the top rope for support after another stinging right hand in the fifth but, although he offered nothing in return, he gamely remained throughout the middle rounds.
The Italian had only boxed twice outside of his homeland in 42 previous fights and, to his credit, gritted his teeth and refused to wilt but he only succeeded in eating more straight right hands.
By the eighth, the exhausted Di Rocco was looking quizzically at his cornermen for advice and Burns pounced, landing a flurry including a damaging left hook that caused a second knock-down. Di Rocco stumbled to his feet but needed the referee to save him from further damage.
"When the fight was stopped I could feel myself welling up," Burns said afterwards. "My team knew what this meant to me. After everything that's happened, Eddie Hearn showed faith in me and delivered this big fight.
"Everything we worked on in the gym was working. [Trainer Tony Sims] couldn't believe how easy it was. Thanks to all my team and everyone for coming down here. I just can't believe it, honestly.
"In the gym we're always having a laugh that I'm the only veteran. I feel like I've been fighting forever. I was 12 when I started, thanks to everyone who helped me through the years to get here. I don't know what to say.
"The game-plan we set out was to keep it long with jabs and straight rights. I couldn't miss him with it. We didn't have to get in the second phase of the game-plan. I'm going on holiday next week but I'll be chasing my team because there are some big fights out there for me now."