Few expected Ricky Burns to have major trouble with Jose "Chelo" Gonzalez today, but he did. And after seven rounds of largely one-sided action, even fewer could have expected Burns to have his hand raised just two rounds later, but he did.
Though he opened up a 7-0 lead on the BLH scorecard and was outclassing and outgunning the Scottish star, Gonzalez (22-1, 17 KO) gassed out after a hard-fought seventh round where he tried and failed to put Burns away, and quit on his stool after the ninth round, stunning everyone by surrendering in his first-ever world title fight, which at one point he appeared well on his way to winning handily.
Burns (36-2, 11 KO) deserves major credit for throwing caution to the wind in the seventh, after having a terrible time figuring out the Puerto Rican challenger. He dragged Gonzalez into a bit of a brawl, and though he lost the first battle in that seventh round, he ultimately won the war. Gonzalez left everything he had in the ring in the seventh, showing nothing in the eighth or ninth rounds, before he refused to get off of the stool for the 10th.
Gonzalez's corner man covered his own face with a white towel, seemingly knowing just what had slipped away from them. The official reason was a broken left hand, but without trying to sound tough or demand anything from Gonzalez, the simple fact is that we've seen a lot of guys fight through that injury, or sprains in the hand or wrist, or whatever, and come out the winner.
They deal with the injury after the fight. Again, that's not meant to chide Gonzalez or say he's a coward or anything like that, it's just a truth. This will give the indication that no matter his talent -- and "Chelo" is clearly talented -- he will never make it at the top levels.
For Burns, today was a slight reality check, and he's very luck to be leaving Emirates Arena with his world title around his waist. This probably can't be chalked up simply to rust, because Gonzalez just plain outboxed him for the first six rounds. But Burns did the only thing it appeared he could do: He turned up the heat, and drove Gonzalez out of the fight.
Burns will likely be back fairly soon, as he's unlikely to be left hanging the way he was several times after his last fight, a series of misfortunes and bunglings that ultimately saw him sign with Matchroom to get his career going again. Burns should be happy with the heart he displayed today, with the win, and with knowing he can come through when the odds are going against him. He showed great resiliency. He also showed some major vulnerability, and there are probably a lot of challengers eager to take a crack at him now.