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Page last updated at 11:08 GMT, Sunday, 5 December 2010

Burns soothed by victory

Ricky Burns did not get everything his own way against Andreas Evensen
Burns did not get everything his own way against Evensen

By Keir Murray
BBC Scotland at Braehead Arena

The first defence of a title has the potential to end in misery for the champion.

There are the inner doubts that he may have already peaked, that he may not be able to rediscover the hunger and drive that fuelled the title win.

In addition, the champ knows that the challenger will be buoyed by the same desire that drove he himself to glory in his previous bout.

A few weeks before Ricky Burns put his WBO super-featherweight belt on the line against the Norwegian Andreas Evensen, he indicated that he did not want to do any more interviews other than those previously scheduled.

An open and engaging person, he was concerned that the demands being placed on him were such that he was being distracted from his preparations.

What I see in the gym is class. He was sparkling 10 days ago but not at his best tonight

Trainer Billy Nelson

On the evidence of his unanimous points win against the courageous Colombian-born Evensen, 24, Burns had managed to get into the right frame of mind in the intervening period.

But, as he admitted in his dressing-room after the bout, he "wasn't quite at 100%".

Sporting a bruise on his forehead, he told reporters: "I felt I was a bit flat, but if I can go out there, not be at my best and still win, that's the main thing.

"I've had a tough year. Before I won the world title, there was a lot of hassle about getting the fight happening.

"So I feel as if I have been training all year.

Burns unhappy despite points win

"I only fought three months ago after a couple of weeks off, so I'm looking forward to a wee break and hopefully getting back in the ring at the end of March."

There was little chance of Burns' fight with Evensen matching the excitement of his title win against Roman Martinez in September.

Then, he was the underdog: against his stocky opponent from Norway, he was favourite by some distance.

A crowd of about 4,000 sang along to Bryan Adams' "Summer of 69" as Burns entered the arena.

Evensen had the backing of 60 supporters of his own, accustomed to travelling to watch him compete as professional boxing is banned in Norway.

Among his fans were his girlfriend, Mona Goa, and school friend Martin Bjoernholm, both from Trondheim.

Holding her Norwegian flag, Goa said before the bout: "I know Ricky Burns is a great boxer and we are all expecting a tough fight, especially because of his height.

"I hear Ricky is a nice guy. Everybody says that about Andreas too, but inside the ring it's a different story."

His friend, Bjoernholm, a 22-year-old tae-kwon-do practitioner, was keen to offer his support.

Andreas Evensen (left) and Ricky Burns
Evensen and Burns were both cheered at the end of the bout

"He came to see my fights, spending a lot of money to do so. I wanted to do the same for him," he said.

Though the band of Norwegians will head home disappointed, they can be immensely proud of their hero's unflinching bravery and willingness to take the fight to the belt-holder.

Burns may have been the one wearing the yellow and black shorts, but it was Evensen who resembled a hornet, attacking persistently.

He was given a standing count of eight in the first round, partly from a punch but mostly thanks to a slip, but thereafter came at Burns, head down and full of enthusiasm.

The pace of the fight was astonishing. It says much for the fitness of these two athletes that the first time either backed off was in the fifth round, when Evensen took a few moments to protect his head and ribs as Burns set about him with a two-fisted attack.

With each fighter on the front foot, what convinced the judges to award Burns a 119-108, 119-108 and 118-109 win was his composure under attack, his greater elegance, his more precise punches.

What Evensen did to Burns, the Scot did to the challenger straight away in retaliation, only with greater violence and accuracy.

Evensen has the endurance of a cross-country skier and the ability to change direction like a starling at dusk but found in the Coatbridge boxer a fighter in no mood to relinquish his title so soon.

Enjoying a considerable height and reach advantage over his squat foe, Burns looked alert at all times.

Yet he was clobbered a few times. On one occasion, at the end of the fourth round, he was spun in the corner and hit with a clean shot to the head, a lapse that enraged his trainer, Billy Nelson.

Burns explained afterwards that Nelson had told him, as he sat on his stool at the end of that round, to stop feeling sorry for himself, "to go out there and get on with the job".

That he did, and thoroughly deserved the decision against an admirable combatant who was determined to make the most of his shot at the title.


The commitment shown by both fighters was acknowledged when both were cheered heartily at the end.

Burns plans to wind down by doing some Christmas shopping with his girlfriend - then it will be back to his weekend job in a sports shop, followed by a gradual return to training.

"I'll fight anyone," he said. "We'll see what happens. I would love to fight Mzonke Fana, the IBF champion, and unify the titles."

Despite having to strip naked to make the weight - he was an ounce too heavy at the weigh-in with his underwear on - trainer Nelson scoffed at the suggestion that Burns was struggling to make the 130lb limit.

However, he warns that, when his fighter does move up a weight division, the effect could be dramatic.

"When he goes up to lightweight, he's going to be frightening. But that's a few years away," said Nelson.

"What I see in the gym is class. He was sparkling 10 days ago but not at his best tonight.

"He just needs a good four-week break. He's been working hard for months.

"I know him as well as his mother does now."

see also
Burns unhappy despite points win
05 Dec 10 |  Scotland
Dominant Burns retains WBO title
04 Dec 10 |  Boxing
Quiet man is ready to rumble
03 Dec 10 |  Boxing
Waeroey shapes Evensen challenge
10 Nov 10 |  Scotland
Evensen banks on surprise element
28 Oct 10 |  Boxing
Burns to face Evensen in defence
07 Oct 10 |  Boxing
Incomparable drama on Burns night
05 Sep 10 |  Boxing
Burns wrests title from Martinez
04 Sep 10 |  Boxing

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