Where Does Ricky Burns Rank Among the Best Scottish Fighters Ever?

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Where Does Ricky Burns Rank Among the Best Scottish Fighters Ever?
Scott Heavey/Getty Images

Last year, promoter Eddie Hearn suggested that Ricky Burns could be compared to his country's most illustrious names. "The run of fights he's had and the string of defences puts him up there as the greatest Scottish fighter of all time," claimed the Matchroom honcho.

Certainly if Burns can defeat Terence Crawford on Saturday night that will increase his standing in the all-time ranks, but he is still some way from validating Hearn's lofty words. Still, it is a promoter's job to promote and by putting Burns into the conversation when it comes to historical greatness, Hearn has undoubtedly succeeded.

Scotland's boxing history is richest in the lower divisions and none of the absolute best Scottish fighters fought above Burns' current lightweight division.

Chic Calderwood, a British light-heavyweight champion who recorded a win over future world champion Willie Pastrano in 1960, was probably Scotland's best fighter at the higher weights. Murray Sutherland was the first IBF super-middleweight champion in 1984 but lost his first defence before the title had much credibility.

Tommy Milligan held the British, Commonwealth and European titles at both welterweight and middleweight, recording a win over faded great Ted 'Kid' Lewis in 1924 before losing a middleweight world title shot against Mickey Walker in 1927.

Also just missing the cut are Jim Brady, who fought at a high level from bantamweight to lightweight in the early 1940s without getting a major title shot, and three flyweights—that being by far Scotland's strongest division—Tancy Lee, Elky Clark and Johnny Hill.

Lee was the first man to beat the legendary (but pre-prime) Jimmy Wilde in 1915 and he held the British title at both flyweight and featherweight. Clark was the European champion who lost a world title challenge to Fidel LaBarba in his final fight in 1927.  Most unfortunate of all was Hill, who, on the brink of being recognised as the world flyweight champion in 1929, tragically died aged 23 from pneumonia.

With those distinguished names having been duly recognised, here are Scotland's eight finest fighters.




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