Boxing Betting: Upset in the air as Ricky Burns faces tough Gonzalez

9May 2013



Boxing writer Alex Steedman turns his attention to Ricky Burns' clash with Jose Gonzalez in defence of his WBO title...


They say that a change is as good as a rest. Ricky Burns will certainly be hoping so as he's experienced both in recent months. This weekend we find out if that has  been a blessing or a hindrance as Burns defends his WBO title against Puerto Rican puncher Jose Gonzalez.


Luck deserted Burns at the end of last year when his opponent pulled out of a December fight and the late replacement Liam Walsh was injured in a car crash. Then with  a big unification clash against Miguel Vazquez approaching this spring, illness to his fellow world champion put the brakes on that too. Burns was peeved, picked up  his bag and left Frank Warren to join Eddie Hearn's flourishing Matchroom stable. After seven months out of action (the longest spell in recent years), Burns makes his  debut for the new team.


On paper this looks a good piece of matchmaking with Gonzalez holding the No1 ranking within the WBO but only just inside the top 50 with Boxrec. Unbeaten in 22  fights, Gonzalez has built a reputation as a puncher with 17 stoppage wins including 10 KOs inside three rounds. There's no doubt the Puerto Rican is still raw and he  has an amateur habit of pulling back from punches in straight lines but I think he's as dangerous as that record suggests.


Gonzalez has been fighting opponents some way removed from Burns in terms of ability but he has impressed in demolishing them nonetheless. Oscar Cuero was a late  notice, eight-time losing rival but Gonzalez hammered him with a couple of crunching body shots. Eddie Soto was also halted in a round with a short, left-right  combination as Gonzalez produced a scary, showreel stoppage off the back foot. There is no doubt that Gonzalez is heavy handed, he fights with poise and patience too  and if he lands, this is a fight he can win.


It is though a massive step up in class for Gonzalez against a champion who seems at the top of his game, at least the last time we saw him. I was ringside in  September when Burns thumped Kevin Mitchell in four rounds, a sensational, decisive performance that took most of the boxing world by surprise. Ricky looked enormous  that night-he's clearly growing into the division-and has developed a fast, effective style. The jab will be important again for Burns and he looks quicker than  Gonzalez but he will have to be wary of counters off his lead punch.


There is also the danger that Burns might have gone off the boil given he has been in and out of training camps since October. Generally Burns is in the gym anyway so  it may be a matter of staying focused more than anything else but it's possible he may be jaded. The Scotsman trades on his fitness along with excellent technique so  backers will have to trust that he is on it as usual. If so, Burns has the ability to control this fight and take it on points.


Gonzalez reminds me a little of Breidis Prescott who came to the UK in 2008 as an unknown with a punchers' record and left as the man who hammered Amir Khan. He will  size up as the biggest Burns has fought in the division and he looks the most dangerous too. The footage of Gonzalez shows a fighter who has improved significantly in  the last two years and one who has both the weight and variety of punch to cause Burns problems and hurt him too. We just don't know if Gonzalez is quick enough or  indeed good enough and if he can hold it together at this level but I wouldn't put anyone off a small bet. Gonzalez is one dangerous dude-with 14 KO's from his last 16  fights-and he's hungry too.


The pair share Joseph Laryea on their records with Burns winning in seven in 2011 and who Gonzalez sparked in just three rounds last July; further evidence that  Gonzalez is the hunter here. The likelihood is that Burns will be able to control the action and perhaps outclass Gonzalez, certainly I can see that as a possibility  and I have the feeling that 'Rickster' will be able to make his opponent miss. Gonzalez looks quite menacing if not methodical, a bit like Cotto in the early days. It  could just be he's one-paced but we won't know until he takes this rise in class.


Burns is unbeaten in 20 fights stretching over six years, he knows how to win and remember he diffused Michael Katsidis comfortably enough. This may be a step back  from the unification fights Burns was hoping for but they are on hand if he wins and given the timing as well as the emotional difficulties of the past year, this may  be Ricky's biggest test yet. I'm hoping it'll be another Burns' night in Scotland but there is upset in the air.


Recommended Bet

Jose Gonzalez to win by KO/TKO, currently at 4.0



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Keywords: boxing, betting, Ricky Burns, Gonzalez

Source: Betfair

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