ON SEPTEMBER 1 the Braehead Arena in Glasgow will stage one of the unlikeliest fights of 2023.
Ricky Burns 44-8-1 (16) and Willie Limond 42-5 (13), who have served Scottish and British boxing with varying levels of success over the years, will fight one another at a combined age of 84 and with over 100 fights between them.
Scottish derbies have delivered some of the best boxing nights north of the border, particularly when you think back to the 1973 British title fight between Ken Buchanan v Jim Watt right through to the East v West battle involving Lee McGregor and Kash Farooq in 2019.
Burns had his own 17 years ago when he ventured across the M8 motorway to Edinburgh to square-off against Alex Arthur. It proved to be a case of too much too soon for Burns who lost a wide decision for the British, Commonwealth and European super-featherweight titles. Few predicted that the beaten youngster with the dyed blonde hair would go on and surpass Arthur’s achievements.
Four years later ‘Rickster’ was a massive underdog when challenging the hard-hitting Roman Martinez at Glasgow’s Kelvin Hall. Down in the first round Burns looked out of his depth but came back to produce one of the greatest performances by a British boxer this century. That win elevated Burns to new heights and gave him the WBO belt at 130lbs.
Never one to duck a challenge Burns went on to share the ring with Kevin Mitchell, Ray Beltran, Terence Crawford, Dejan Zlaticanin, Omar Figueroa Jr, Anthony Crolla, Lee Selby and more. His was a career that proved you can punch above your weight and in doing so won more hardware at lightweight and super-lightweight. Burns’ last fight came in December 2021 when beating Emiliano Dominguez over 10 rounds.
“I’ve always said I want to finish my career in Glasgow,” Burns said at yesterday’s press conference for his 54th fight. The show is promoted by Iain Wilson.
“Even if I’ve not got a fight lined up, I’m always up in the morning, always in the gym, always keeping myself fit because you never know when that phone is going to go.
“Willie’s talked his way into this fight and if he’s the opponent, so be it! Everyone knows, it doesn’t matter the fight, I will treat it the same and I’m going to train just as hard.
“Business as always, 10 weeks to go and I’m ready to go out there an out on a good performance and a big night in Glasgow.”
Burns’ record at the Braehead Arena is six wins from seven. A win for Limond will be a little feather in the cap for the now 44-year-old Glaswegian.
Limond, who also lost to Alex Arthur during his career, never hit the heights of Burns but all that may have changed when he fought Amir Khan in July 2007. Billed as British boxing’s next superstar Khan nearly came unstuck against the crafty Scot who put the Olympic medallist on his backside in round six. Unable to finish the job Khan dug deep to return the favour one session later before Limond was forced to retire in the eighth with nose and jaw injuries. Khan’s 13th professional contest had been his most difficult to date.
A shot at glory awaited Limond when he was picked to face Mexican legend Erik Morales in 2010. The Morales body shots, even with 55 fights in the bag, still had too much impact for the Scotsman to handle and was stopped in round six.
A former Commonwealth champion at 135lbs and 140lbs Limond failed to win the British lightweight title against Anthony Crolla but put in one of his best ever performances against Curtis Woodhouse to become British super-lightweight champion in 2014. On that same card at the Braehead Arena Burns deservedly lost to Dejan Zlaticanin and showed signs that the end was near.
At Tuesday’s presser Limond, who last fought in May 2022 beating CJ Wood, spoke of his gratitude at being part of the show in September but warned Burns that he won’t just roll over on the night.
“Ricky was talking about this being his last fight and I was earmarked as [the] opponent so I’m just very grateful for this opportunity. Just the fact it is Ricky Burns gets me up in the morning, his record speaks for itself – three weight world champion, he’s a fitness fanatic, a machine. That’s what gets me up for this fight.
“Me and Ricky have known each other for years. I’ve got nothing but respect for Ricky but if they think I’m just here to roll over and let him steamroll me, that’s never going to happen, there’s no chance that’s going to happen! Soon as that first bell goes, I’m all over him like a cheap spray tan!”