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WBO says Ricky Burns must face mandatory challenger, not Scott Harrison

Ricky Burns will have to face his mandatory challenger next, according to the WBO, if he wants to keep his lightweight title. The good news is that means he won't be facing Scott Harrison. The bad news is the mandatory challenger, Adrien Broner, has another fight in his sights.

Scott Heavey - Getty Images
Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

Those of you who fear a potential Ricky Burns vs Scott Harrison money-grab later this year in Scotland can probably sleep a little easier, as WBO President Paco Valcarcel has issued a statement saying that Burns must face his mandatory challenger next:

Last weekend, Ricky Burns successfully faced Kevin Mitchell at the Scottish Exhibition Center, in Glasgow, Scotland. The Press has been speculating with the possibility of Harrison landing the winner of the Burns-Mitchell bout. However, Burns next bout will be his mandatory and Harrison is not even classified.

Francisco "Paco" Valcarcel

WBO President

The current No. 1 contender is Adrien Broner, who is setting up a November 17 bout with WBC champion Antonio DeMarco. Burns and Broner were actually scheduled to fight on HBO last year, but Burns vacated the WBO super featherweight title instead and moved up to 135, where he won their lightweight belt. He most recently defended, of course, against Kevin Mitchell, who was the No. 2-ranked contender by the WBO.

There has been a lot of chatter about Burns facing Scott Harrison (27-2-2, 15 KO), a 35-year-old old former WBO featherweight champion who has fought twice this year after a six-year absence from the ring. Harrison's two wins are pure tune-up material, and he's not legitimately a contender in any way other than it would probably be easy to milk the Scottish fans for some money with the fight.

But Harrison isn't ranked by the WBO, and unless that changes (it could, for what it's worth), that's not going to happen, at least not if Burns wants to keep his title. Even if Broner isn't available, they can name a different mandatory.

The next three potentially available ranked fighters appear to be Jose Gonzalez (4), Sergio Thompson (5), and Ji Hoon Kim (7). Gavin Rees is ranked eighth, and would make sense in most ways, except that Rees is promoted by Matchroom Boxing, Frank Warren's main rival. The TV situation in the UK would probably prevent a fight that really should happen given the overall situation at the moment, but that's boxing for you, both sides of the pond.

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