By Andrew McCart (@Andy_FCBoxing)
Scotland’s Ricky Burns (41-5-1, 14 KO’s) retained his WBA junior welterweight title with a twelve round decision over Kiryl Relikh (21-1, 19 KO’s) of Belarus.
Burns – a three weight world champion – started the fight trying to establish his jab and set up a straight right hand, but it was Relikh who started the better by boxing on the front foot and stalking the Scot.
The unbeaten challenger took the fight to Burns and maintained a fast pace while closing the ring down. The 32-year old Coatbridge native did start to come in to the contest a bit more in the fourth round, landing a lovely straight right hand which snapped the Belarusian’s head back.
The experience of Burns started to show more in the middle rounds. With the likeable Scot finding success with the jab. Relikh, who had only been past the fifth round once began to look frustrated with Burns’ movement. Then in the seventh Burns landed a nice combination, which all the 26-year old Belarusian could do was nod in frustration.
‘Rickster’ looked fairly comfortable in the middle rounds, using his tight guard and circling left to stay away from Relikh’s left hook. However, in the 10th round – after a rallying cry from trainer Ricky Hatton – Relikh came out swinging and firing solid shots from all angles. Even landing two sickening looking body shots. Burns did well and showed his toughness to hear the bell.
Relikh continued to pour on the pressure in the championship rounds and started to find a home for those trademark hooks. With 20 or so seconds left in the fight, Burns bit down on his gum shield and started to trade back and landed some decent shots of his own.
With 12 hard rounds gone it was Burns who got the decision with the judges scoring the contest 118-110, 116-112 and 116-112.
At the post fight press conference Burns said. “I’m a bit sore, that boy can bang… I had to grit my teeth in there and he hurt me more than once.”
On a possible match up with outspoken American Adrien Broner, promoter Eddie Hearn said, “I would love a Vegas trip… Adrien Broner is almost there, but there are one or two things that need to be sorted out first.”by