Ricky Burns produced a second unconvincing title defence in as many bouts, and was lucky to escape with a controversial draw against Raymundo Beltran.
The three judges were somehow split over what seemed a clear win for the challenger. One scored it 115-112 to Burns, another 115-113 to Beltran and the final judge had it 114-114, leaving Burns to walk away with his WBO world lightweight title intact.
In front of a truly electric Glasgow crowd, Burns started brightly, showing quick hands and initially keeping the Mexican at bay. However, his pace and ring demeanor rapidly changed after he walked into a left hook late in the second, which was later said to have dislocated his jaw, according to Michael Gannon of the Daily Record.
Although this wasn't clear until after the final bell, from then on Beltran appeared in control of the proceedings, slowing around the sixth and seventh rounds but doing enough for most to consider him well ahead.
Beltran's left hook continually stung Burns and the champion often resorted to grabbing hold of his opponent to end some painful exchanges.
Beltran emphasized his authority by flooring Burns with yet another flashing left hook in the eighth round, sending the champion to the canvas for the first time in three years.
Having counter-attacked for much of the fight, Burns rallied late but was down by a couple of rounds on most viewers' cards.
After a run of eight straight world-title wins and five years unbeaten, the champion seemed certain to be dethroned. He appeared dejected prior to the announcement of scores, then relieved—and a little sheepish—as the shocking result retained him his title.
After the fight, Gannon quoted him as saying:
The pain was unbelievable. I don’t know how I got through the fight. I dislocated my jaw in the second round and after the third and fourth I was just trying to avoid getting hit.
It was the most pain I have ever felt. He kept coming back and catching me with the left. I am really disappointed. I wanted to put on a good show for all the fans. I am not sure how the fight was a draw. We will definitely sit down and get it on again.
Credit must go to Burns for persevering with what must have been excruciating pain, but there's little doubt that the wrong man walked away with the title. Beltran was the better fighter on the night and should have left Glasgow toasting a win.
After a sloppy previous performance against Jose Gonzalez, Burns must make an impact on his return from injury.
Surely a rematch against Beltran, possibly in America, is the obvious route to take.
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