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Page last updated at 01:38 GMT, Saturday, 20 June 2009 02:38 UK

Burns overcomes O'Hara in Glasgow

By Keir Murray
BBC Scotland at the Bellahouston Leisure Centre, Glasgow

Kevin O'Hara (left) and Ricky Burns (right)
Burns (right) has now successfully defended his title three times

Coatbridge super-featherweight Ricky Burns had to battle to retain his Commonwealth super-featherweight title against Belfast's Kevin O'Hara.

In a thrilling bout in Glasgow, Burns landed the heavier blows and looked the classier boxer but O'Hara rarely took a backwards step in the 12-rounder.

The judges scored the bout 117-110, 115-113, 117-111 to give the 26-year old Scot his third successful defence.

Edinburgh's Alex Arthur beat Mohammed Benbiou in one round on the undercard.

Right from the opening clang of the timekeeper's bell, Burns knew he was in for an uncomfortable evening.

O'Hara, with a record of 16 wins in 20 bouts going into this fight, was supported by a noisy throng of fans close to the ring whose chanting competed with Burns' busloads of fans from Lanarkshire.

They created a tremendous atmosphere at the Bellahouston Leisure Centre.

"Sweet Pea" O'Hara was determined to make the most of his chance at a shot of the title and launched some frenzied attacks in the opening rounds.

However, the champion was registering points with his superior jab and showed nimble footwork to evade the swinging arms of the Irishman.

O'Hara's early tactic was to crouch, waiting for Burns to throw his left jab, then pounce with a big right hand over the top.

I didn't see the fight going the distance, but Kevin is a tough laddie

Commonwealth champion Ricky Burns

Later he would launch himself at Burns at pace and with aggression.

The 27-year-old's punches were ferocious enough to have Burns occasionally looking to his corner for advice, but at no point was the heavily tattooed Scot in danger of hitting the canvas.

The pair maintained a punishing tempo for most of the 12 rounds, although, unsurprisingly, the bout at times became scrappy as the duo tired.

Referee Terry O'Connell deducted a point from O'Hara in the ninth round for using the head and twice Burns was given a few moments to recover from low blows.


In the last two rounds, Burns knew he would be ahead on points and used his boxing skills to keep the impressive O'Hara at bay.

Speaking after the bout, Burns said: "I let him into the fight more than I should have. But take nothing away from Kevin, it was a tough fight.

"Towards the end, the left hand to the body was hurting him a good bit, but whatever I was throwing at Kevin he was throwing something right back.

"I knew exactly what he was going to do. Every time I went to come in, he was trying for the big hooks. All I had to do was keep my chin in and I'd be fine.

"I didn't see the fight going the distance, but Kevin is a tough laddie."

And despite the punishing nature of the contest, Burns insisted he would learn from it.

"Fights like that are good for you - you gain a load of experience from them," he said.

The defeated Irishman, although disappointed to lose, had mixed feelings after the contest.

"I'm happy enough with my performance in my first 12-round fight," said O'Hara, who has never been stopped.

"I thought he stole it with those stupid single jabs he was throwing at me, catching me on the way in.

"I tried to draw him in to the fight but he didn't want to know with the body shots.

"I'll go on holiday next week and reflect and take it easy.

"I've got a future in the game. It's my fifth loss. It is disheartening but Ricky Burns is moving up and moving on and, please God, that's my chance."

Meanwhile, former WBO super-featherweight world champion Arthur made his return to the ring, fighting at lightweight and looking much the happier for it.

He demolished Benbiou in 93 seconds, putting the French-Algerian fighter on the canvas three times.

see also
Burns treats O'Hara with respect
27 May 09 |  Boxing
Burns retains title against Gomez
27 Mar 09 |  Boxing
Burns claims Commonwealth crown
27 Sep 08 |  Boxing

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