By Gianluca (Rio) Di Caro
Last Friday I was lucky enough to sit down and have a chat with the highly likable WBO Super Featherweight Champion of the World Ricky Burns, who is set to defend his title for the third time against Nicky Cook at the Echo Arena in Liverpool on the 16th July.
On Wednesday Ricky, along with his coach Billy Smith, made the long trip down from Scotland to spend a couple of days training and sparring at the renowned TKO Boxing Gym in Canning Town, London, as part of the preparations for the Nicky Cook showdown.
Throughout the visit Ricky proved highly popular, not just with the members of the press that descended on the gym but also with the fighters that are based there. Ricky gave his time willingly and when he wasn’t actually training or sparring would be perched on the side of a ring happily chatting with anyone that approached him.
Luckily for me I had prearranged the interview, if I hadn’t I doubt that I would have got a look in with so many people vying for his attention, so without further ado it is my pleasure to present a Q & A with Mr. Ricky Burns.
Rio – You’re been down here in London for a few days to spar with Kevin Mitchell, how did that go?
Ricky – All the sparring’s been good, I always say the harder the sparring the better so we’re going to come back down again on the 20th June.
We’ve known Johnny (TKO supremo Johnny Eames) for years, so we like to get down here because there are so many boxers here. Everyday you come in there are so many fighters who you can get put in sparring with.
We’ve just organised it and we’re going to be coming back down on the 20th June for another week, because it’s such a great gym with so many people we come down and use it. Really looking forward to it.
Rio – Besides Kevin you also sparred with some of the other fighters based here, how did those sessions go?
Ricky – Obviously they’re just coming up the ranks and that, some of them like George (Jupp) and Eddie (Hussein) have only had a few fights so we just had a good move around.
I was also sparring with Dean Byrne, that was quite good tough sparring and that, you can’t ask for anything more.
Rio – You’re defending your title for the third time against Nicky Cook, on the 16th July, what’s you thoughts on the fight?
Ricky – I sat down and spoken with Billy about it. Nicky Cook has just fought again, that was his first fight in two years. Come fight night I think I’m going to be far too much for him. Although in his day he was good, but when Marquez beat him he was struggling himself, he was struggling with the weight and that. So two years on how is he going to get on making the weight then. The fight is seven weeks away and we’ll find out.
Rio – I’m adding an extra question in here – as you just said the fight is seven weeks away, yet in sparring you look fight ready already. How come?
Ricky – I’m always fight ready. After my last fight I took a couple of weeks off and I was straight back in. I was helping John Simpson, I have also been sparring with paul Appleby, Michael Roberts as well. So again my fitness is always there.
Rio – You beat Roman Martinez for the title – how did you see that fight and how did it make you feel to lift the belt?
Ricky – Obviously I gave everybody a fright in the the first round, you know when you watch back I was off balance when he hit me. If I hadn’t been off balance at the time he hit me it could have been a lot worse because I would have took the full force. But again when I got up to my feet I looked straight round to Billy to let him know I was all right, you could just see everybody putting their hands to their heads.
Again though winning that title was just like another fight for me, just this time I’m a World Champion like.
Rio – You surprise me, I know that you were the Commonwealth Champion and defended that quite a few times but I would have thought fighting for a World title would have been something special for you.
Ricky – Do you know what it isn’t, you know, I treated it just like any other fight. All my fights are big to me so I don’t see any big deal to it.
A fight’s a fight, you know, a couple of weeks ago Billy phoned me up as one of the boxers has pulled out of a home show at the last minute. He phoned me up to ask if I’d do an exhibition, I ended up doing an exhibition with a guy that was making his debut. It was only four threes mind you, but I get excited about that as much as I did getting into World fights so it’s just the way I am.
Rio – You’ve had some great fights, which stands out the most to you?
Ricky – Obviously winning the World title, you can’t beat that, but when I fought Michael Gomez is the fight that sticks in my head.
He wound me right up at the press conference before that fight. Everybody that knows me knows I’m a quiet guy, I keep myself to myself and do the talking in the ring. He got so under my skin, although I didn’t show it in the buildup, at the finish of the fight I showed it. If the ref hadn’t jumped in a stopped the fight I was not stopping. That’s a fight that stands out for me.
Rio – After you’ve defended your World title for the third time, what’s next for Ricky Burns?
Ricky – You know, I’ll just fight whoever is put in front of me, that’s the way I’ll always see it. Obviously I want the big unification fight against Mzonke Fana but I have just recently heard he has been stripped of his IBF title, but fighting for the Ring belt, that;’s the belt we want, the Rocky belt .
After the fight we’ll sit down and talk, obviously I have to make sure I win first or no bigger fights going to happen, so we’ll get this fight on the road and take it from there.
Rio – Which Boxer influenced you most?
Ricky – Do you know what, when I was growing up I was always watching Prince Naseem. He’s doing the managing now, he’s managing Callum Johnson.
When I made my first defense Callum was on the undercard and Naseem was at the press conferences and that. You know honestly I was that nervous meeting him and that, but then again that’s just the way I am. That was a big deal for me.
My favourite boxer around now is Floyd Mayweather. I always thought he boxed really well. The fight against Pacquiao has got to happen, It’s the biggest fight out there that can happen, so fingers crossed that it can come off.
Rio – Besides Mzonke Fana is there any other fighter you would really like to fight?
Ricky – Obviously there’s the two Japanese boys that have the WBC and the WBA , I not to sure about their names (ed – Takahiro Ao and Takashi Uchiyama) but again I’m always happy to fight anyone, that’s just my attitude.
Since I was wee and put on a pair of gloves I used to go to all the shows and on at my coach ‘get me a fight, get me a fight’ It’s just the way I’ve always been.
The way I keep myself grounded is I always tell myself that to give one hundred and ten percent every fight. I always say to Billy ‘If you get beat you get beat. If you win, you win, that’s it’ and I think it’s the right attitude I’ve got.
Again if I’m in a fight I’m in it and Billy knows I’ll always give one hundred and ten percent in the gym every time I’m in.
Rio – Thank you so much for giving me some of your time today, I’ve really enjoyed the interview. My final question is do you have anything you would like to add?
Ricky – I have great fans, especially back home in Scotland I have great support. Obviously with the Nicky Cook fight being in Liverpool I think Frank Warren is trying to get me more support by getting my name out there. But I think there will be a great crowd coming down from Scotland so fingers crossed hopefully we’ll start getting my name put about a bit.
Ricky Burns’ third defense of his WBO World Super Featherweight title, against Nicky Cook, will take place at the Echo Arena in Liverpool on Saturday 16th July 2011.