Thursday, June 18, 2009

British Scene: Ricky Burns vs Kevin O'Hara Preview

Tomorrow night in Glasgow, Commonwealth super-featherweight champion Ricky Burns makes the 3rd defence of his title against challenger Kevin O'Hara.

Dave Oakes has the preview.

Make sure to check back in with us on Monday for our recap of this show.

Saturday June 13

Ricky Burns vs Kevin O'Hara (Sky)

By Dave Oakes

The ever improving Ricky Burns makes the third defence of his Commonwealth super-featherweight title on Friday night against former amateur star Kevin O’Hara.

O’Hara was a top class amateur but has so far failed to reproduce that form in paid ranks. He turned pro just over six years ago and has amassed a disappointing record of 16-4 with only five of those victories by stoppage. All four defeats have come in fights where he’s taken a step up from fighting journeymen.

There’s no disgrace in losing to Willie Limond or Choi Tseveenpurev, who are both very good fighters, but his defeats against Henry Castle and Eddie Hyland are much more worrying. Castle is entertaining to watch but is nothing more than a crude slugger, and whilst Hyland has talent, he’s got very little ambition and doesn’t punch with any authority; they’re the kind of fighters that are made for O’Hara, yet he managed to let himself get outworked by them and lost both fights on points.

Burns is coming off a career best win against an old but always dangerous Michael Gomez. Burns was on top form that night, controlling the pace of the fight with a ramrod jab and keeping his hands held high and his chin tucked down. He kept Gomez off balance all night and I was really impressed with his hand-speed as well as the patience he showed before turning up the tempo in the sixth and seventh rounds to stop Gomez.

Burns’ only defeats have come against Alex Arthur and Carl Johanneson but he’s improved greatly since those fights. Those defeats have improved him as fighter and it goes to show that an undefeated record in a young fighter doesn’t mean anything other than they’ve been well matched.

Burns has won by stoppage in both of his title defences and is showing improved power. However, I’d be surprised if he stopped O’Hara, who’s got a very solid chin and knows how to slip away from punches to minimise the effect.

O’Hara is a lovely boxer when he’s allowed to settle into a rhythm, so Burns must use his jab to full effect to stop that happening and to set up his own attacks. I think he will do just that and will control the fight from start to finish to take a wide points decision in front of his hometown fans at the Bellahouston Sports Centre, Glasgow.

Former world champion Alex Arthur makes his long awaited return on the undercard. Arthur hasn’t boxed since losing his world title to Nicky Cook last year and will be looking to shed some ring rust against little known Frenchman Mohamed Benbiou.

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