Is looking ahead dangerous, or a product of the drive necessary to become a world champion again? Former two-time world champion "The Rickster" Ricky Burns (36-3-1, 11 KO) will be hoping for the latter Saturday when he faces veteran southpaw Dejan Zlaticanin (18-0, 13 KO) from Montenegro.
Per promoter Eddie Hearn, who writes a column in the Daily Mail, Burns has his sights set on WBC lightweight champion Omar Figueroa. Burns lost his WBO title to Terence Crawford in his last bout and is now looking for the quickest route back to a world title.
Zlaticanin doesn't have a wealth of experience, and he's faced almost no one of note in his career, but he does have an undefeated record and a high KO rate. The battle with Burns should tell us how good Zlaticanin really is.
Just below is all of information needed to watch this bout.
When: Friday, June 27 at 3 p.m. ET
Where: Braehead Arena, Glasgow, Scotland
TV: Sky Sports 3
The Book on Burns
The Rickster didn't just lose his last bout. The 31-year-old from Scotland has looked less than stellar in his last three outings. In May 2013, Burns was down on all three scorecards against Jose A. Gonzalez.
The hard-punching Puerto Rican injured his wrist and did not answer the bell for the 10th round. Burns had dodged a serious bullet. In his next fight, he was given a gift. Raymundo Beltran broke Burns' jaw and seemed to do more than enough to win, but the bout was ruled a draw.
Against Crawford, Burns' luck ran out. The Omaha, Nebraska, native easily outboxed him to win a unanimous decision.
Burns could very well be on a three-fight losing streak, and in the minds of his fanbase, his promoter and himself, he might be. This explains why Hearn said this in his blog: "Ricky Burns is fighting for his career and his livelihood... defeat now would be a nightmare."
Even facing such seemingly dire circumstances, Burns' camp has him on the cusp of a battle with Figueroa. That proves just how important this fight with Zlaticanin is.
Burns sounds confident when he speaks about the prospects of facing Figueroa.
"I believe I have another world title in me." Burns said, per Sky Sports. "Omar is a good fighter, another southpaw, but I've seen clips of him and his last defense was a close fight and some people thought he lost it. It would be a fight that I would be confident going into and the WBC belt is the one that everyone wants to get their hands on."
Before Burns can chase another world title, he must take care of Zlaticanin.
The Book on Zlaticanin
Zlaticanin's height isn't listed on BoxRec, but from watching him in the ring, he looks short and squatty. That said, he is an efficient, southpaw slugger with a clubbing left hook.
It's easy to see why he has 13 KOs in just 18 fights. He has the type of power that should still be a factor against an increased level of competition.
By constantly coming forward, Zlaticanin applies consistent pressure on his opponents. His head movement was hit and miss in the fights I watched, but he changed levels nicely with decent explosion when he was in range.
There's no doubt a Zlaticanin win would be surprising, but he's no one Burns should be taking lightly, as Burns' new trainer Tony Sims told Ewing Grahame of the Daily Record.
"Nobody over here has heard of him but this guy is a decent operator," Sims said. "He’s stopped a lot of opponents and the WBC rate him highly. This will be a hard fight. So I don’t want Ricky to go in there and try to knock him out. I want Ricky to outbox him and I’m looking forward to seeing him show his skills."
Will The Rickster heed his trainer's advice?
This bout has "trap fight" written all over it for Burns.
He's shown eroding skills over the last three fights, and because of that, he'll likely want to impress. He's facing a fundamentally sound, hard-punching southpaw with nothing to lose. Burns doesn't have the power to slug, but may be susceptible to being dragged into a war because of Zlaticanin's pressure.
To top it all off, Burns may be looking passed the Montenegrin.
If Burns sticks to the game plan, he should be fine. However, if he finds himself in a brawl, he could easily be outgunned and stopped.
Even with so many reasons to pick the upset, I don't have the heart to make it official. Instead, let's go with a hard-fought split-decision victory for Burns in his native of Scotland.
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