Ricky Burns' comeback from defeat two straight losses was far from his best performance, but he picked up the expected and deserved win today over France's Alexandre Lepelley on an eight-round score of 79-71 from the referee. This was Burns' first fight as a junior welterweight.
Burns (37-4-1, 11 KO) dropped Lepelley (17-2-1, 3 KO) in the first round, but other than that looked a little sluggish, a bit out of shape, and just not really himself. It's been a while since we've seen the Ricky Burns that turned so many heads for a few years, as he was dominated by Terence Crawford, then upset by Dejan Zlaticanin, and even before that, he had clearly lost to Ray Beltran only to get a gift draw from the judges. And even before that, he needed a serious comeback against Jose Gonzalez in May 2013 to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
The last time we saw Ricky Burns truly look like a top fighter was in September 2012, when he smashed Kevin Mitchell in four rounds, which may have really been his best performance.
Burns, 31, is young enough to find his way again, but he's kept a busy schedule and had some tough fights, too, even in clear victories against the likes of Rocky Martinez and Michael Katsidis. While I wouldn't write him off just yet -- we've seen a lot of fighters go through mid-career dips and then come back -- he'll need to find his footing. Today was a start, but the quality wasn't there the way he and his team may have liked.
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Callum Smith had every physical advantage over Rafael Sosa Pintos in their scheduled eight-round super middleweight fight, and he took advantage of them all with a third round stoppage. Smith (14-0, 11 KO) punished Pintos (48-11, 19 KO) to the body repeatedly, dropping him three times in the third round alone to produce the easy victory.
As the Sky commentary said, this is -- or should be -- the end of Smith's apprenticeship. This is a very talented young fighter, and it's time to move up. And right now, that's what they have in mind, as he's got a date with Nikola Sjekloca on November 22 in Liverpool.
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Dave Ryan scored a pair of knockdowns that proved crucial to the judges' tallies in a majority decision upset of Tyrone Nurse to win the vacant Commonwealth junior welterweight title. Ryan (16-8, 3 KO) won on scores of 114-113, 114-113, and 113-113. Nurse is now 29-2 (5 KO).
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Brian Rose (26-2-1, 8 KO) got back on the horse following a bad loss to Demetrius Andrade in June, returning home for a tune-up against Ignacio Fraga of Argentina. Fraga (11-8-3, 5 KO) was just the medicine that Rose's doctors ordered, as the 31-year-old club fighter went down three times, all in the final minute of the first round, before the referee waved it off. This was nothing more than a confidence builder for Rose, but that can be vital for a fighter coming back from a beating like Andrade gave Rose. He's still a quality guy at domestic or European level, and there's plenty more career ahead of him.