SHEFFIELD’S Commonwealth bantamweight champion Ross Burkinshaw had a remarkable comeback year in 2014, after a series of career threatening injuries, culminating in claiming his title at just four days’ notice against Jason Cunningham in Doncaster back in September.
The 28-year-old was supposed to be making the first defence of his title against Terry Broadbent in his hometown at the Octagon Centre on February 21, however “The Boss” has received the news he will be taking on a whole different challenge.
Burkinshaw, who is promoted by Dennis Hobson, will now fight for the WBO European bantamweight belt, a title that can fast track any fighter up that organisation’s world rankings, against Belgian Benjamin Smoes.
Smoes, who brings in a record of 9-3-1, with one stoppage, has fought for the title before, albeit down at super-flyweight, when he took on Jamie Conlan in Belfast last April, when he was dropped twice en-route to getting stopped in the seventh.
However, Burkinshaw sees this as a genuine test of his world title credentials and believes that his comeback will reach another level after he gets the victory over the Belgian.
He said: “I knew which title I would be fighting for over the weekend and now I’ve got the name; I can start preparing in earnest. I do know that bantamweight is his real weight and he struggled to make super-fly for the Conlan fight, so he will give me a stern test.
“My trainer Ryan Rhodes has been watching him a bit already and we have been training for that of style anyway, so it won’t make too much of a difference. Smoes is a step up, but the way I look at it, he is going to be having a much tougher night than I will.
“I was going to be defending the Commonwealth, but this opportunity came up and I couldn’t turn it down. I’ll defend the Commonwealth at a later date, so with this win I’ll be gaining another belt to add to my collection.”