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Preview: Martinez vs. Burns – WBO Super Featherweight Title

The new boxing season kicks off tonight, marking the start of a huge few weeks for British boxing, which will culminate with arguably the biggest card of the year:Frank Warren’s Magnificent 7 bill on September 18th. But before we get to that, we have two big world title fights to get through. The first of which sees Scotland’s Ricky Burns challenge WBO titlist Roman Martinez in Glasgow tonight.

Burns can think of himself as fortunate to get this opportunity. He brings a 28-2 record into the fight with most of his wins coming against journey men and domestic level competition. The two times he stepped up in class he was beaten; dropping decisions to Alex Arthur in 2006 and Carl Johanneson in 2007.

He rides a 13 fight win streak into this bout. His best performance probably being the 7th round stoppage of a massively faded Michael Gomez last year. In his next fight after that, Burns went to hell and back with Irishman Kevin O’Hara in a fight I still feel he was lucky to get the nod in. Burns did, to his credit, upset former world title challenger Graham Earl in only his 9th fight as a pro. But tonight will definitely represent a massive leap in standard for him.

Martinez will be confident coming into this match up, and he has every right to be. He’s undefeated as a pro with a record of 24-0-1, and it was on his last trip to Britain that he won his world title by stopping Nicky Cook in the 4th round. Cook, for my money at least, is an altogether better fighter than Burns. However, we have to go back to that old cliche “styles make fights”. Cook mixed it with Martinez and ultimately got smoked. Burns presents a different sort of challenge for the Puerto Rican.

I love when a favoured champion goes on the road to take on the challenger in his home town. It creates this almost Rocky like dynamic. Burns goes into this fight as a serious underdog, but he does so with the support of the entire crowd. This may be the one shot he gets to fight for a world title. He will know this is all or nothing for him. For Martinez it’s just a routine title defense. For Burns this is the biggest fight of his life. You can be sure he will want to leave everything in the ring.

The Scot will have a reach advantage which he will need to put to good use if he’s going to stand a chance. Martinez is not impossible to hit. Cook tagged him frequently with his jab and badly staggered him with a left. Burns needs to establish his jab early, hit and move, and never let the smaller man find his stride. When he finds himself in close he needs to tie up, push off, and get back on the move. Martinez will definitely be the puncher in there. If Burns is forced to stand and fight this will not last long.

However, should Burns get off to a good start – steal a few of the early rounds – then this becomes very interesting. Then all of a sudden Martinez has a fight to chase. And maybe, just maybe, with the crowd willing him on to the finish line, Burns can see out the decision. Ricky has shown resiliency in the past, particularly against Johanneson, where he got off the canvas three times. There will be times tonight where he will have to call upon that same resolve if he’s going to make it through 12 rounds against someone with the finishing instincts of Martinez.

My gut feeling is this is just too big an ask of Burns. I think ultimately he lacks the power to deter Martinez, and will eventually find himself drawn in to a shootout he can’t win.
Martinez KO between 5-8.

Footage from weigh in **Here**

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