Nobody saw it coming. In a contender for upset of the year, Scotland's Ricky Burns stunned Roman Martinez in Glasgow to lift the WBO super featherweight title by unanimous decision. Official scores were 115-112 (twice) and 115-113. Bad Left Hook scored it 116-111 for Burns.
Burns (29-2, 7 KO) climbed off of the canvas in the first round against the powerful Martinez (24-1-1, 15 KO). It looked then that the fight was the mismatch we all expected it would be, with Burns, a gutty and inconsistent boxer with little punching power, just out of his class against the Puerto Rican slugger.
But after that, Ricky Burns just plain took over, fighting the best fight of his entire career. He overcame disadvantages in power by outboxing Martinez to the point of domination for much of the fight. Using his legs, height, and frustrating style, Burns was able to keep Martinez at bay, a task that seemed near impossible after the first three minutes.
Burns also hurt Martinez repeatedly in the fight. Martinez consistently was a sucker for Burns' right uppercut, and was hit with many flush shots. Given that Martinez was completely exhausted by the end of the fight, and was totally flat-footed for much of it and wearing down gradually, I think it's worth saying a better puncher than Burns likely would have stopped Martinez in this one.
I hate to use the word, because it's overused, frankly -- but Martinez was "exposed" a bit today. With all due respect for Ricky Burns, and with great admiration for his ability and for his phenomenal performance today, Ricky Burns is not a great fighter. But he made Martinez look downright silly at many points in this bout. Martinez fell in love with his own power early in the contest, and spent too much time trying to load up. Burns was slippery enough to make him miss, but then it got to a point where Martinez was clearly telegraphing everything he was doing. Burns was hurt a couple more times after the first round, but overall he just took full control of the bout.
Congratulations to Ricky Burns for a sensational upset victory. This is quite a win for Burns and for Scottish boxing.
In the co-feature, Stephen Smith took the Commonwealth featherweight title from John Simpson in another good, competitive fight. Smith (11-0, 6 KO) won on split scores of 116-114, 116-112, and 114-116. Bad Left Hook scored the bout a draw, 114-114. Smith's inexperience showed in spots, particularly when the two fighters got in close, but he gave a fine accounting of his ability against the rugged Simpson. I'd really like to see a rematch. I think another step up the ladder would be too much for Smith just yet, and there are still things he can learn fighting Simpson, and things he can correct. He's got obvious ability, but he's still a bit raw.