Following back-to-back poor performances in a gift draw against Raymundo Beltran and a loss to Terence Crawford, Ricky Burns was looking to get back into the win column today in Glasgow against tune-up opponent Dejan Zlaticanin of Montenegro. It turns out that they picked the wrong opponent if they were looking for an easier win, but the right opponent if they wanted to find out just how much Burns has left at age 31.
Zlaticanin (19-0, 13 KO) won a split decision on the cards, handing Burns (36-4-1, 11 KO) a rather devastating setback as he looks to get back into the race at 135 pounds. Zlaticanin came out hot, flooring the home fighter in the opening seconds of the fight on a wild, swinging left hand that landed flush on the point of the chin, and it looked bad very quickly indeed for Burns, who to his immense credited, showed his toughness and resolve simply by getting up, getting his feet back under him, and making a fight of it.
That said, BLH had it 50-44 for Zlaticanin at the time that the Sky Sports broadcast went out, which lasted until the end of the 10th round. When we came back, analyst Jim Watt had it 95-94 for Zlaticanin, and in the end, Watt had it 114-113 for Burns, giving him rounds 6-12, barring round eight which he had for the Montenegro underdog.
The scores wound up being 115-113 twice for Zlaticanin on the cards of judges Gerald Ritter (USA) and Predrag Aleksic (Montenegro), and 115-113 for Burns on the card of the UK's John Keane, who is in my opinion one of the better judges out there, so I'm hesitant to bash the card simply because he's a UK judge, as I didn't see rounds 6 to 10, and neither did anyone else watching on TV.
Promoter Eddie Hearn admitted after the fight that this is a "devastating blow" for Burns, and said that he's out of the picture at world level now, and will have to decide if he wants to take a big domestic-level fight and try to work his way back into things.
For Zlaticanin, 30, this is a big-time win that gives him Burns and Petr Petrov on his résumé, which isn't exactly the most impressive thing ever, but certainly could be enough to earn him a world title shot against Omar Figueroa, for instance, who holds the WBC belt at the moment.
On the undercard, Willie Limond (38-4, 10 KO) beat Curtis Woodhouse (22-7, 13 KO) by majority decision to unify the British and Commonwealth junior welterweight titles, Stephen Simmons (10-0, 5 KO) scored a 10th round stoppage of Wadi Camacho (12-3, 8 KO) in a cruiserweight bout.