Burns vs Relikh: Ricky Burns beats Kiryl Relikh to hold on to WBA world title
By Matt Horan
Last Updated: 08/10/16 6:48am
Ricky Burns made the first successful defence of his WBA super-lightweight world title with a unanimous points victory over Kiryl Relikh in Glasgow.
The Scot, a three-weight world champion, took a while to get going after a promising start from the Belarusian challenger, but eventually claimed victory on all three of the judges' scorecards after a punishing and fiery battle.
The former WBO super-featherweight and lightweight champion grew into the fight after being backed up early on and eventually won the fight via scores of 118-110 and 116-112 twice.
Relikh, 26 and trained by Ricky Hatton, took the fight to Burns and found his rhythm quickly as he moved in and out, landing big right hands on the home favourite and proved he belonged at world level.
The almost unknown and unbeaten challenger maintained a fast start, closing the ring down, throwing those hard right hands with great success, silenced the normally rampant Glasgow crowd.
Burns though, the more experienced of the pair, started to really get going in the third round and gave Relikh as good as he got as the pair went toe-to-toe, battling for the centre of the ring.
In the fifth, the Scot started to find success with the left hand and began to judge the distance well and catch his opponent coming in. A big left hand from Burns caught Relikh cleanly on the side of the head late on in the round and it proved to be a big turning point in the fight.
As the fight reached the mid-rounds, Burns began to outwork and chip away at the Belarusian, who had only been past five rounds once before, as Relikh's work rate began to slow.
'Rickster' took control in the eighth as his accuracy, power and swift counters took effect on the onrushing challenger and his tight defence kept him out of any real trouble.
Before the ninth, Hatton seemed worried about the engine of his charge and gave a rallying cry to Relikh, but it did little to change the order of service as Burns continued to land combinations behind a stiff jab.
That rallying cry seemed to finally register before the 10th as Relikh came out like a man possessed and fired shots from all angles at the champion. It was a fantastic and valiant effort and Burns was clearly hurting after two punishing left hooks to the body, happy to eventually hear the bell.
The onslaught continued into the championship rounds, an unknown territory for Relikh, as he gritted his teeth and landed huge blows on the chin of the Scot and sent in more Hatton-esque body shots that had Burns cowering against the ropes.
Burns though eventually got the decision and speaking to Sky Sports afterwards, he said: "I have to say that Relikh can really whack and he caught me with a couple of big shots early on. He could whack! I know people go on about big punchers but there were some thudding punches.
"We stuck to the game-plan though, stuck to boxing and I'm pleased with myself that I never got dragged into the fight. I got the win, that's the main thing. And now we're onto the next one.
"The last couple of rounds I could hear the crowd singing away. The support I get up here is unbelievable. I know they're talking about these big fights happening next, possibly in America, but imagine getting them over here. It would be something else!"
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