Ricky Burns beats Jose Gonzalez to retain world title
By Keir MurrayBBC Scotland at the Emirates Arena
Ricky Burns ended the tremendous challenge of Puerto Rico's Jose Gonzalez to retain his WBO world lightweight title in Glasgow.
Gonzalez, unbeaten in his previous 22 bouts, retired at the end of the ninth round with a damaged left wrist.
At that point, there was little to separate the two as Burns was tested to the full in his third title defence.
And the 30-year-old Scot must have experienced as much relief as delight when the bout was ended prematurely.
The partisan crowd would have wilted the fighting desire of lesser men but Gonzalez was bright and game in the opening round, flashing out his left fist to keep the more aggressive Burns at bay.
The opening two rounds suggested the fight could be a thriller, with Gonzalez breaking from his more languid style to mix it up on occasion with the home favourite.
Burns's nose was bloodied in the third and the challenger enjoyed success with two-fisted attacks towards the end of the round.
However, the Scot grinned at the attempt and was ferocious with his own assaults.
With 17 knockouts in an unblemished 22-fight career, the challenger posed considerable danger to Burns but, as is his style, he was prepared to take a few shots to land some of his own on the 29-year-old from Toa Baja.
Against Kevin Mitchell in his last defence, Burns looked bigger and stronger than his opponent: not so with Gonzalez.
By the midway point in the fight, the pair looked evenly matched, each able to boast of inflicting pain on the other and of making their opponent miss with superb reflexes.
Worryingly for the champion, Gonzalez looked wonderfully composed, even winking to his corner on occasion.
The seventh round was Gonzalez's strongest as he pinned Burns against the ropes and blasted at his arms and body.
Burns was off balance and ragged and was under the greatest threat since the opening rounds of the bout against Roman Martinez, which he won to become world champion at super-featherweight.
Whatever advice trainer Billy Nelson imparted had the desired effect as Burns caught Gonzalez with a sickening left to the body to stem the tide in the eighth, an impression that continued into the ninth as he began to assert himself once more by being quicker off the mark in their exchanges.
And when the challenger remained seated in his corner as the bell sounded for the 10th, the crowd roared to acclaim their hero - and the talent of the challenger.
On the undercard, John Simpson was too accurate and too composed for Choi Tseveenpurev from Mongolia. The Greenock fighter took the vacant WBO inter-continental super-featherweight title with a unanimous points win - 116-112, 117-112, 116-113.
As has been the case throughout his career, the 41-year-old proved impossible to stop and at least he left Glasgow with that record intact.
But Simpson had to work hard for his win, wisely choosing when to attack and when to cover up to avoid the upper cuts and sharp punches from the brave opponent.
In the end, despite a bloody nose, Simpson's work was the more telling and his victory was thoroughly deserved.
Edinburgh's Steve Simmons won the vacant Celtic cruiserweight title after Michael Sweeney's corner retired the Irish fighter with an unspecified injury after three rounds.
Glasgow super-featherweight Michael Roberts survived a cut eye in the third round and some thumping, varied shots in the sixth to beat Brentford-based Polish southpaw Mariusz Bak.
Judges gave the Scot the nod with a score of 58-57. The 26-year-old takes his record to 12 wins and no defeats as he seeks to build a case for a tilt at the British title.
Ricky Burns still WBO champion after fight is stopped in ninth round when José González retires injured
Ricky Burns retained his World Boxing Organisation lightweight title last night thanks only to good fortune, after José González retired at the end of the ninth round on his stool with a damaged left wrist.
Photo: GETTY IMAGES
By Gareth A Davies, Boxing Correspondent
The Puerto Rican challenger was three rounds ahead on all three cards – 87-84 – when he failed to stand at the bell for the 10th, registering his first defeat in his 23rd contest, as Burns advanced his record to 36 wins and just two defeats after this, his eighth world title contest.
Outboxed for long periods of the contest, heart and steeliness and the will to win carried the champion Burns through a fight in which he was made to look pedestrian at times. The ring rust of three training camps and no fight since September clearly showed.
This was no performance on a par with the great Ken Buchanan, to whom comparisons had been drawn this week. But in a contest which ignited from the fifth round onwards, Burns showed again why he deserves high praise.
The seventh round was a thrilling spectacle as the two men fought each other to a standstill, both caught by hooks, both exhausted and both in trouble. The right punch from either fighter could have brought a finish. A rematch may well be on the cards.
Just as the Glasgow main event got under way, in Doncaster hometown fighter Jamie McDonnell was crowned International Boxing Federation bantamweight champion over Mexican Julio Ceja by majority points decision 114-114, 115-113, and 118-110.
It was a magnificent performance by the 27-year-old plasterer against Ceja, who had arrived at the Keepmoat Stadium with 22 knockouts in 24 contests.
The 20-year-old Mexican was understandably the favourite heading into the bout, boasting such an impressive record. However, little was known about his previous conquests and he had never previously fought outside his own country.
In a close contest, McDonnell had to weather storms of attacks from the visiting fighter, but towards the end, his slick skills were more apparent.
To his credit, McDonnell took Ceja’s meaty power shots incredibly well throughout, not least in the 11th, when a Ceja left hook – the punch of the night – landing cleanly on McDonnell’s chin. Yet McDonnell finished strongly in a thrilling final round and the judges’ scorecards rewarded him for his durability.
Ricky Burns retains world title after José González retires hurt
• Judges had the challenger ahead in WBO lightweight title fight
• Jamie McDonnell wins the vacant IBF bantamweight title
Kevin Mitchellin Glasgow
Ricky Burns drew on all his considerable courage and resolve to overcome a fierce mid-fight beating and force the previously unbeaten knockout artist from Puerto Rico, José González, to quit after nine rounds, the Scot's WBO lightweight title safe for another day.
But how close he came to losing. All the judges had the challenger ahead when he decided that his swollen left hand was too big a handicap, even though he had not been down and at one point had Burns out on his feet. González had switched to southpaw a few times, although not for the first time in his career.
The fighters came to the ring as word filtered through from Doncaster that the local fighter Jamie McDonnell had won the vacant IBF bantamweight title after coming through a tough finish to outpoint the unbeaten 20-year-old Mexican puncher Julio Ceja at the Keepmoat Stadium, 114-114, 115-113, 118-110, In an era where British fighters are starting to make noises on the world scene again, McDonnell's win was a welcome one for the industry, but that latter score, by Dave Parris, was considered an embarrassment by those at ringside.
Burns's opponent also brought ambition and heavy hands. For the most part, he has fought opponents with winning records since he turned pro at 25, unusually late for a Puerto Rican, although the only name that leaps from the pages of his cv is Pipino Cuevas Jr, son of the former WBA welterweight champion, and he was a pale replica of the original.
The atmosphere in a packed Emirates Arena, just across the road from Celtic Park, buzzed through the national anthems but dipped in the quiet opening rounds as González, a couple of inches shorter than the champion, worked his jab up and down, looking for an opening with his roundhouse right and a speculative uppercut from the same side. Burns boxed on the outside, gauging his opponent's speed and power, but struggled to find a rhythm, or the ever-moving head of González.
Desperate to make the Puerto Rican feel his power, Burns missed repeatedly with rights, and opened himself up to sharp counters, his nose seeping blood inside nine minutes.
The visitor grew in confidence, his slick, relaxed movement confounding Burns as the rounds ticked by. The Scot walked on to a steadying right in the fifth and had to cover up on the ropes, but he looked finally to be finding his range. Anxiety flooded Burns's work and only a generous soul or a friend could have given him even a share of a round in the first half of the contest.
For the uncommitted, this was a lovely exhibition of pure boxing skill by the challenger and Burns no doubt realised he needed to do something special to turn it around. Staggered in mid-ring, he chose to respond to the roar of the crowd by brawling with a fighter of stunning power rather than fiddle his way to safety, and how did not go down mystified González as much as it did the rest of us.
The likelihood of the fight lasting the scheduled 12 rounds dwindled by the punch. Most of the fight-finishers came from González, although he took a few in reply to give Burns encouragement in the eighth, which he might have won, amazingly. With 12 minutes left on the meter, Burns knew he had to put in the finish of his life to keep his title and, disregarding all danger, he forced his man on to the back foot, yet struggling to land a punch to turn the contest in his favour. González, visibly tiring, was now the one swinging at air.
And then came the shock ending. González signalled he could not continue and his chance had gone. It might come again, but it is doubtful Burns will entertain him. The champion has a little bit of work to do after surviving his toughest examination by far.
On the undercard, Greenock's John Simpson, whose talent has not always been rewarded in a 33-fight career littered with nine defeats, several of them close, outpointed Choi Tseveenpurev for the vacant WBC International Silver super-featherweight title, a belt with more letters than credibility, but a possible springboard to better things.
The judges saw it 116-112, 117-112, 116-113 for Simpson, Burns's friend and sparring partner, and, while it was a tough fight to score, the booing that greeted the decision was unwarranted. The loser, in great shape for a 41-year-old, had no complaints.
Choi has been a popular operator in British rings since he arrived here from Mongolia 14 years ago, with only eight fights to his name. He is of the uncluttered view that if the last hook landed, throw another one, and he got through with enough to Simpson's wobbling head to have the Scot hanging on a few times. Breathing hard through a bloodied nose in the fourth round, Simpson felt the chafing of the ropes as his foe hunted him down with heavy hooks to head and body, but, working behind a stiff jab and long right, he rallied well.
Burns retains WBO lightweight title after injury forces Gonzalez off in Glasgow
By Ronnie Esplin, Press Association
Ricky Burns retained his WBO lightweight title after Jose Gonzalez stayed on his stool at the end of the ninth round in a dramatic night at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow.
The 29-year-old mandatory challenger from Puerto Rico went into the fight unbeaten in 22 fights with 17 of them won inside the distance but an injury - with the suggestion it was a broken wrist - scuppered his chances of an upset.
Burns survived a seventh round in which he took some punishment and although he came back after that he was behind on points when the fight came to an early finish.
Winner: Burns came away victorious after a pulsating battle in Glasgow
The 30-year-old, making his third title defence, started cautiously, using his left jab to get his range.
Encouraged by the raucous crowd, the Coatbridge champion commanded the centre of the ring, pressing his opponent back albeit some wild swings missed the target.
Burns looked the more powerful, snapping his left-hand out to make sure Gonzalez kept on the back foot.
The third round witnessed more and better exchanges between the two fighters with a trickle of blood appearing on Burns' nose.
The crowd got excited when their favourite had the challenger on the ropes but it was all too fleeting to do too much damage.
Early doors: The match came to an early finish for Gonzalez with a suspected broken wrist
The chanting started again as the crowd urged Burns forward, not that he needed much persuasion.
He took a right-hand flush on the face in the fourth round but came back with a couple of powerful body shots.
Some fierce blows were traded but Burns still looked in control, emerging from clinches with little damage done.
Gonzalez appeared game but his lack of experience made him vulnerable at times.
Against that, he indicated with some good powerful punches, some that Burns had to take, why his knockout record was so impressive.
Ahead: Gonzalez was leading on points before the fight was ended at the end of the ninth round
The Scot got caught with a stinging left hand at the start of the sixth round which brought him charging towards Gonzalez in some anger, but still he could not quite pin him down.
The Puerto Rican was changing attack hand at regular intervals and he wobbled Burns with a right hand in the a remarkably brutal seventh round from which the champion was lucky to escape.
Burns came out at the start of the next round determined to get back on top, as the slightly nervous crowd bayed for their man to regain control.
It looked like the champion's head had cleared but he flew into Gonzalez swinging wildly at times.
The challenger was on the back foot for most of the ninth round, looking like he may have lost his chance to create an upset.
But there was unforeseen drama when Gonzalez failed to come out for the 10th round, which sparked scenes of celebration in the Burns camp.
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