Alex Arthur: Ricky Burns will honour Mike Towell, retain title

Ricky Burns during the WBA Super-Lightweight world title bout against Michele Di Rocco

Alex Arthur is backing Ricky Burns to lift Scotland's spirits with an emotional world title win in honour of the late Mike Towell.

Burns defends his WBA super-lightweight title against Kiryl Relikh in Glasgow on Friday night, just a week since Towell died from injuries sustained in a fight.

Compatriot Arthur, the former European super-featherweight champion, will be ringside at the SSE Hydro to watch Burns make the first defence of his third world title at different weights. He admits the passing of the 25-year-old known as 'Iron' will "still be in everyone's thoughts".

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Arthur is not only confident that Burns will give Scottish fans a much-needed lift by beating Relikh but that Towell would have wanted the fight to go ahead.

"The ambiance in the Scottish boxing community has been pretty low and everyone is upset, especially for Mike's family, his girl and his little boy," he told Sky Sports.

Mike Towell loved boxing and I know he would have wanted to see the other fights go on and the other fighters progress their own careers
Alex Arthur

"Without even thinking, Mike is never going to be forgotten by anyone. We still think about James Murray, who died over 20 years ago, and people just try to get on with things.

"Some of the boxers fought the night after Mike's death. David Brophy, John Thain, Lewis Benson, a few lads from Edinburgh all boxed. It might have been a wee bit closer and they were doing it out of respect and were focused once they got in the ring.

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Mike Towell obit 30/09/2016
Image: Mike Towell would've wanted the fights to go on, says Alex Arthur

"I know that is what Mike would've wanted them to do. Having met him on a few occasions and being close friends with his trainer Jamie Coyle - we met as youngsters and have been close friends for a long time - I can definitely tell you this is what he would've wanted.

"Mike Towell loved boxing and I know he would have wanted to see the other fights go on and the other fighters progress their own careers, to try to follow what Ricky has done and get to the very top.

"What we need to lift the mood is to see Ricky doing what we are all confident he will do: Keep that world title in Scotland."

Ricky Hatton the trainer of Kiryl Relikh
Image: Ricky Hatton, the trainer of Kiryl Relikh, set up a fund-raising account

Arthur admits it will be an even more emotional with Ricky Hatton in the corner of Burns' challenger, Relikh (21-0-KO19).

'The Hitman' was the first to set up a fund-raising Facebook page following Towell's death, and although he trains the challenger from Belarus, it has already proven how the boxing community comes together.

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"Burns has got a difficult fight on his hands because Ricky Hatton really rates him and we listen to Ricky - especially after what he's just done. We've all put money into Hatton's fund-raising account.

"There is no doubt Ricky Burns will do his bit - in and out of the ring. I am sure him, me and a few of the others will get together in the next week or so. I think we are all going down to Billy Nelson's gym to do some kind of fundraising for Mike, his girl and his kid."

Promoter Eddie Hearn has announced that the proceeds of all ticket sales for the fight between midnight Wednesday and midnight Thursday will go to Towell's family.

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Johnny Nelson and Adam Smith preview Ricky Burns' world title defence against Kiryl Relikh

Watch Ricky Burns v Kiryl Relikh and the undercard live from Glasgow, from 8pm, Friday, on Sky Sports 2.

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