Ricky Burns (39-5-1, 13 KOs) is aiming to become Scotland’s first triple weight world champion when he takes on Michele Di Rocco (40-1-1, 18 KOs) for the vacant WBA Super-Lightweight title at the SSE Hydro, in Glasgow on Saturday night.
For the 33 year old Burns, a win on Saturday night would not only see him written into the history books but it would set him firmly on the road to redemption following a torrid three years which saw mixed results in the ring, the loss of his WBO lightweight title to the slick Terence Crawford, a court room battle with his former promoter Frank Warren and bankruptcy.
His opponent on Saturday Di Rocco 34, is the former European Super-Lightweight champion. Di Rocco a one time top amateur has not lost a professional fight in eight years. His sole loss came at the hands of veteran Giuseppe Lauri in 2007. Boxing fans in the UK may be familiar with Lauri a former European super-lightweight champion who was stopped by both Junior Witter in 2002 and Paul McCloskey in 2010. In the rematch, Di Rocco stopped Lauri in the first round in April 2014.
Di Rocco is an orthodox fighter, he likes to box and move using his jab to set up his overhand right. He out boxed Londoner Lenny Daws on route to a unanimous point’s decision in a European title defence in 2013. However a potential weakness in Di Rocco’s style is his defence, he fights with his left hand held low and he looks tailor made for Burns’ chopping overhand right.
It would be easy to write Burns off on the basis that he is 3-3 in his last six fights, that said those losses were to the extremely talented Terence Crawford, former lightweight world champion Omar Figueroa Jr and a tricky southpaw and potentially a world champion in waiting Dejan Zlaticanin. Even in defeat Burns managed to give a good account of himself in all three fights. It may be an exaggeration to say that he is on the slide, he is still relatively young by modern standards and he has the style to beat Di Rocco. Despite being unbeaten for eight years the general quality of opposition Di Rocco has faced has been poor. Burns has the more impressive record in that regard.
All things considered this is a must win for Burns. He has a strong jab and he will also have height and reach advantages over his opponent so the most likely verdict is a points win for the Scot.
Burns is not regarded as a puncher, but he has stopped his last two opponents. His ability to wear down opponents is perhaps underrated, a perfect example of this is his fight with Kevin Mitchell so do not be surprised if he wears Di Rocco down and forces a stoppage in the latter half of the fight either.
On the undercard, British Super-Lightweight champion Tyrone Nurse (32-2-1 6 KOs) defends his title against the former British and Commonwealth champion Willie Limond (39-4, 11 KOs). An accomplished domestic fighter Limond never lost his titles in the ring. The four losses on his record came against quality opposition in the form of Anthony Crolla, Erik Morales Amir Khan and Alex Arthur. It will be an exciting clash of styles as the unorthodox Nurse will have to contend with Limond’s pressure and experience.
Middleweight John Ryder (22-2, 12 KOs) continues his comeback following his loss to Nick Blackwell for the vacant British title in May 2015. He takes on Poland’s Robert Talarek (13-11-2, 8 KOs) in a six round contest.
Also featuring on the undercard is Undefeated lightweight Scott Cardle (19-0-1, 6 KOs) who takes on Ivan Njegac (7-1, 1 KOs)in a six round contest.
Nigel Benn’s son Conor ‘The Destroyer,’ Benn (1-0, 1 KO) takes the next step in his professional career as he goes up against Luke ‘The Nuke,’ Keleher (2-4-1) in a four round contest and former Olympic Bronze medallist Anthony Ogogo (8-0, 4 KOs) makes his long awaited return to the ring following injury setbacks as he takes on Chris Hermann (21-10-1, 12 KOs) in a six round middleweight contest.
Coverage of Burns v Di Rocco is live on Sky Sports 1 from 8pm on Saturday the 28th May 2016.